U.S. House votes to hike debt ceiling, avert default

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WASHINGTON (Businesshala) – The Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives on Tuesday finalized a bill passed by the Senate to temporarily raise the government’s borrowing limit to $28.9 trillion, at least as early as December. till the risk of default is removed.

FILE PHOTO: An American flag flies outside the US Capitol dome in Washington, US, January 15, 2020. Businesshala / Tom Brenner

Democrats, who narrowly control the House, maintained party discipline to pass the tough fight, raising the $480 billion debt limit here to 219-206. The vote was party-wide, with Democrats every yes and Republicans every no.

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President Joe Biden is expected to sign the measure into law this week before October 18, when the Treasury Department estimated it would no longer be able to pay off the nation’s debt without Congressional action.

Republicans insist that Democrats must take responsibility for raising the debt limit as they seek to expand social programs and spend trillions of dollars to tackle climate change. Democrats say the increased lending authority is needed to cover the cost of tax cuts and spending programs during former Republican President Donald Trump’s administration, which House Republicans backed.

The House passage brushed off concerns that the United States – the world’s largest economy – would go into default at first, but only for about seven weeks, setting the stage for continued fighting between the parties.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell wrote to Biden on Friday that he would not work with Democrats on another debt limit increase. Republican Party leader Trump strongly criticized McConnell after the Senate vote.

Lawmakers have only until December 3 to pass a spending law to prevent government shutdowns.

More partisan fighting ahead

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters she hoped there could be a bipartisan solution to the debt ceiling issue in the future, despite McConnell’s warnings.

Pelosi told her weekly news conference that a Democratic proposal to allow the Treasury Department to lift the debt limit, Congress has the potential to eliminate, “has merit.”

He also reiterated that Democrats do not want to use a procedural maneuver called “conciliation” to raise the ceiling. If Republicans continue to refuse to cooperate, the reconciliation would allow Democrats to raise the ceiling to 51 votes instead of the 60 required by the Senate’s filibuster rule.

Last week the Senate vote to raise the limit – which was more routine before the current era of fierce partisanship – turned into a controversy. Republicans attempted to link the measure to Biden’s goal to pass a multitrillion-dollar legislation to strengthen infrastructure and social services while fighting climate change.

Pelosi said he is optimistic that Democrats can work on changes to reduce the cost of their social policy plans “in a timely fashion.” Asked if Democrats could do so by October 31, she reiterated that she was “optimistic.”

In another sign a compromise was possible, progressive Democrats told reporters that most of them would like to put all proposed programs into a multitrillion-dollar bill, while shortening the time period to cut its overall cost.

Biden has suggested a range of more than $2 trillion, instead of the initial $3.5 trillion target. Pelosi said she won’t bring the law to the House floor if it can’t pass the Senate, where liberal Democrats Joe Manchin and Kristen Cinema both say they can’t support the $3.5 trillion cost.

The months-long battle over debt limits stems from the November 2022 congressional elections, when Republicans are trying to secure a majority in both the House and Senate.

The Senate passed a bill raising the debt limit with the votes of every Democrat, 11 out of 50 Republicans agreeing not to try to block the vote.

Democratic lawmakers fear a Republican boycott of future efforts to raise the debt limit will leave them exposed to political attack ads next year that accuse Democrats of fiscal laxity and disregard for mounting debt.

But Democrats in turn accused Republicans of being willing to default on their loans to the country in order to score political points.

During the Trump administration, the debt limit was raised three times with the support of Democrats, despite their similar opposition to Republican initiatives that supported the 2017 tax-cutting law and Trump’s priorities such as the Southwest border to keep immigrants out. was added to the government debt such as the construction of the wall. , all of which increased losses.

Reporting by Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell, Additional reporting by David Morgan; Written by Susan Cornwell and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Scott Malone and Cynthia Osterman

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