House passes stand-alone bill that would suspend the debt ceiling until December 2022
The House passed a bill Wednesday night that would suspend the debt limit until after next year’s midterms.
The vote was 219-212, mainly along party lines. However one Republican voted in favor of bumping up the limit – Rep. Adam Kinzinger – while two Democrats voted alongside House Republicans.
The Democrats who voted against the stand-alone bill were Reps. Jared Golden and Kurt Schrader.
The debt ceiling – how much the U.S. government is allowed to borrow – would be lifted until December 16, 2022.
The bill is now headed to the Senate where it will face almost certain death from Republicans.
A stand-alone bill to suspend the debt ceiling until after next year’s midterm races was passed by the House Wednesday evening
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, walking alongside actor Woody Harrelson, walks to the House flor on Wednesday
Earlier Wednesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki fussed at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Ted Cruz at the press briefing for their resistance to help Democrats raise the debt ceiling.
‘We’re being blocked on that effort currently by Congr… Sen. McConnell – I almost demoted him by accident – by Sen. McConnell, by Sen. Cruz and others. And what’s so absurd about this is that these are individuals, especially Sen. McConnell, who have made very clear in the past about their concerns and the risks of the U.S. government defaulting,’ Psaki said. ‘This is why it’s never happened in the past.’
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testified the government will run out of cash on October 18.
‘It would have a huge, devastating impact on our economy,’ Psaki warned. ‘He knows that, he’s stated that publicly, he still won’t vote for it and he’s still trying to stop us from raising the debt limit – if that’s not politics, I don’t know what is,’ Psaki said of McConnell.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki fussed at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Ted Cruz at Wednesday’s press briefing for their resistance to help Democrats raise the debt ceiling
Cruz had vowed to prevent Democrats from suspending the debt limit through a simple majority vote if McConnell hadn’t stepped in and objected.
On Tuesday, McConnell spoke up when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tried to pass a debt ceiling bill using unanimous consent.
On Wednesday, Schumer urged Republicans to ‘get out of the way.’
Psaki said the White House wasn’t pursuing other alternatives to raise the debt ceiling.
‘The only option here is having this pass through Congress,’ she said.
Raising the debt ceiling is one of four things Congress has on its agenda this week.
The more pressing deadline is getting a stop-gap funding bill passed before the government shuts down at midnight Thursday.
Democrats had originally wanted to pare a stop-gap funding bill with a debt ceiling hike, but McConnell resisted.
Now they appear to be poised to pass a ‘clean’ bill to avert a government shutdown.
A shutdown occurs when Congress fails to approve a budget.
It differs from the debt ceiling – which is the amount the government is allowed to borrow. Lawmakers can either raise or suspend the debt limit. The House bill opted to do the latter.
If the Senate doesn’t also deal with the debt limit, the country could go into default – something that has never happened in U.S. history.
Democrats alone could pass a debt ceiling bill using reconciliation, but Schumer said Wednesday that route would be ‘risky’ as an individual senator could hold up the process, leading to default.
The third and fourth big ticket items are President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill and proposed $3.5 trillion budget bill – that includes a number of liberal goodies.
The $3.5 trillion bill will only get passed in the Senate using the process of reconciliation – however Biden still needs every Democratic senator on board.
So far, that hasn’t happened.
After spending hours meeting with moderate Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema at the White House Wednesday, another moderate holdout, Sen. Joe Manchin, sent out a statement saying he still wasn’t comfortable with the multi-trillion dollar price-tag.
The West Virginia Democrat said he ‘can’t support $3.5 trillion in spending when we have already spent $5.4 trillion since last March.’
Directly before, Psaki had assured reporters that Sinema, at least, wanted a reconciliation bill to get passed.
‘Our sense is she does,’ Psaki said.
After the Sinema meeting, Biden hosted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Schumer to the White House.
The bipartisan infrastructure package that Biden’s team negotiated with Republicans is supposed to get a House vote Thursday, but progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders is telling his progressives colleagues in the House to kill it – using that as leverage to get the reconciliation bill done.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill already passed the Senate.
Psaki was asked Wednesday afternoon if the infrastructure vote in the House was still expected.
‘Well, this is why we all came to Washington – it’s like an episode of a TV show,’ she replied. ‘Maybe the West Wing if something good happens, maybe Veep if not,’ she joked.
Pelosi, back on Capitol Hill for the debt ceiling vote, told reporters ‘that’s the plan’ when asked about the infrastructure vote.
This week is a superficial deadline for the two Biden bills but there are concerns Congress will lose steam if they don’t get passed soon.
‘We’re obviously at a precarious and important time in these discussions,’ Psaki admitted.