Republican senator speaks out against debt ceiling deal
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The House of Representatives is set to pass a short term debt ceiling increase on Tuesday, temporarily averting what would have been an economic crisis if Congress failed to raise the ceiling by Oct. 18.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., scheduled the vote for 5 p.m. Tuesday is the only day the House is expected to be in town this week – it returned from a recess specifically because of the debt ceiling.
The Senate passed the temporary debt ceiling increase, by a total of $480 billion, on Thursday. The White House says President Biden plans to sign the bill after it passes the House.
"Due to the fact that Senate Republicans refused to advance House-passed legislation to responsibly raise the debt limit and chose to put the United States’ full faith and credit at risk, the Senate has passed a temporary, stopgap measure, and the House will be required to meet next week to act on this legislation," Hoyer, D-Md., said last week.
"The Speaker and I have both spoken with Treasury Secretary Yellen, who said that if the House fails to act next week, the country will be unable to pay its bills. This cannot happen. Therefore, the House will convene on Tuesday, October 12, to pass this stopgap measure, and I expect we will complete our work that evening," Hoyer added. "It is egregious that our nation has been put in this spot, but we must take immediate action to address the debt limit and ensure the full faith and credit of the United States remains intact."
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The House last voted on a bill to raise the debt ceiling on Sept. 29. That vote was nearly exactly on party lines, with Democrats voting for the bill and Republicans voting against it. Moderate Democrats Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon voted against raising the debt ceiling. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., voted in favor.
The Tuesday vote will technically be a procedural vote to advance two other bills. But according to Hoyer, the "Rule" vote will also include a provision deeming the debt ceiling to be passed if that vote succeeds. So the vote Tuesday is still a debt ceiling vote, but with some extra elements attached.
It's likely that the vote tally Tuesday will be similar to the Sept. 29 vote, with perhaps a few more Republicans voting for it because the deal that allowed the bill to pass the Senate was spearheaded by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
The temporary measure follows a stalemate between Senate Republicans and Democrats over how the debt ceiling should be raised. Democrats wanted a bipartisan vote under regular order, which is how it is traditionally done.
Republicans, meanwhile, argued that Democrats should pass the debt limit increase via budget reconciliation because that is how they're planning to pass trillions of dollars of spending without GOP input. If Democrats are going to enact "transformational" spending programs without consulting with Republicans, GOP senators led by McConnell argued, Democrats can raise the debt ceiling the same way.
Republicans doubled and tripled down on this position over the course of months, as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Democrats refused to budge from theirs.
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The brinksmanship continued until Thursday – just 12 days before the U.S. was set to default – when McConnell made Democrats a twofold offer. Republicans would either do their best to smooth the passage of a long term debt limit fix via reconciliation in October, or they would pass a short term bill in October then make no guarantees on how hard a time they'll give Democrats in the reconciliation process for a long term bill.
Democrats took the offer of a short term bill and called it a victory, alleging that McConnell caved. Schumer doubled down that the Senate will not be using reconciliation in December.
"Today's vote is proof positive that the debt limit can be addressed without going through the reconciliation process, just as Democrats have been saying for months," Schumer said. "The solution is for Republicans to either join us in raising the debt limit or stay out of the way and let Democrats address the debt limit ourselves… America's full faith and credit must never be used as a political bargaining chip. I hope my Republican colleagues relent from trying to make it one when we revisit this issue soon."
But Schumer's speech landed flat with Senate Republicans, who say that it only made them less likely to work with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling later this year.