The House of Representatives passed a short-term debt limit increase on Tuesday to provide $480 billion that will ensure the federal government does not default on its financial obligations through Dec. 3.
The language to pass the increase was included in a procedural 219-206 vote on three unrelated measures, making it easier for Republicans to vote against the measure.
Its passage comes shortly before Congress’ Oct. 18 deadline, when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen cautioned that cash reserves would be exhausted, warning that a default could have a “catastrophic” impact on the economy and financial markets.
The Senate passed the measure last week after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s bluff, proposing that Democrats could either agree to a short-term increase to provide more time for them to pass it along party lines or move on an expedited reconciliation process to allow Democrats to pass a long-term measure on their own.
While eleven Republicans voted in favor of the short-term increase in the upper chamber — with almost all of Senate GOP leadership supporting the measure — it received little GOP support in the House, with members voicing their reluctance to vote in favor of the measure.
Republicans have been vocal that they will not vote for a long-term debt limit increase, calling for Democrats to use the reconciliation process — which allows them to bypass the filibuster in the Senate — to act on the matter, since that is how they have chosen to pass a broad social spending bill pushed by President Biden, which is expected to cost between $1.5 trillion and $2 trillion — down from its original pricetag of $3.5 trillion.
“I am glad that I decided to wear my boots today because it’s getting deep in the swamp up here today listening to the garbage on the other side of the aisle. The Democrats have already pushed through $2 trillion of reckless, wasteful spending at the expense of working class Americans,” said Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) on the floor ahead of the vote.
“Now they’re wanting to push through another $4.3 trillion reckless spending bill that will reward their political friends, their wealthy donors, and their allies at the expense of working class Americans,” he said.
“If you want to raise the debt $480 billion until December, guess what, listen to the White House. Just last week, the White House said there’s $480 billion of unobligated funds from your Biden bailout bill from March. Use that.”
Democrats have blasted the notion that it should be raised on a partisan basis, with House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) arguing that Democrats have supported raising the debt ceiling under Republican control and feels it is necessary to pay for the previous administration’s spending.
“You wonder why people hate Congress,” he said, taking a swing at Smith. “We have somebody on the Budget Committee trying to make us believe that, in fact, you know, that raising the debt limit somehow controls spending. The bottom line is the debt limit is about paying the bills that have already been accumulated, including many of the bill that my friend who just spoke voted to accumulate, including a tax cut bill that benefited the well off and well connected.”
Schumer (D-NY) opted to accept McConnell’s short-term offer, but then blew up any hint of bipartisanship by taking aim at Republicans in a fiery floor speech.
While McConnell proposed the short-term measure, he asserted that Republicans will not vote in favor of raising the debt ceiling in November in a letter sent to President Biden, adding that he believes Schumer’s rhetoric “only further alienated the Republican members who helped facilitate this short-term [debt ceiling] patch. It has poisoned the well even further.”
As Democrats look to avoid using reconciliation to address the matter, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) expressed support of a bill spearheaded by Rep. Brendan Boyle to place the responsibility of raising the debt ceiling in the hands of the Treasury secretary, but could be overruled by Congress.