House Passes Debt Ceiling Bill That GOP Vows to Block in Senate
(Bloomberg) -- The House passed stand-alone legislation to suspend the federal debt limit through December 2022, but the bill is expected to go nowhere in the Senate in the face of solid Republican opposition.
The measure passed on a mostly party-line vote of 219-212.
Senate Republicans have twice blocked debt ceiling measures from advancing in the 50-50 chamber, where 60 votes are needed to proceed on most legislation.
The debt ceiling was suspended for two years under the Trump administration and snapped back into place in August. Although much of the recent increase in federal debt occurred when Republicans controlled the White House and Congress, the GOP is tying the debt limit increase to Democratic efforts to pass a tax and spending package of as much as $3.5 trillion.
Republicans will not help Democrats raise the debt ceiling “as long as this majority insists on spending money like drunken sailors on shore leave,” Republican Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma said before the vote.
“They and they alone must act,” Cole said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats were willing to do that. But Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell blocked a bid by Schumer on Tuesday to gain Republican consent for a simple majority vote on the debt ceiling.
“We’re just asking Republicans to get out of the way,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House was acting “to honor its responsibility to protect the American economy and American families from the catastrophe of a default.”
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that a default looms on Oct. 18 without congressional action.
Concerns about the current impasse in Washington over the debt limit and other fiscal measures contributed to the biggest selloff in equities since May. The 2% drop in the S&P 500 Index was partially reversed in Wednesday trading. Yields on Treasury bills maturing around Oct. 18 rose more than those on other securities.
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