US House Approves Bill to Increase Debt Ceiling Shortly Before Potential Default

On Wednesday, the House passed a package to raise the debt ceiling, clearing a significant legislative hurdle just days before the US is due to default.

The legislation was approved by a vote of 314 to 117 in the House, with 149 Republicans and 165 Democrats in favor. In a potentially troubling indication for House Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy, 71 caucus members voted against the compromise he negotiated with President Joe Biden.

McCarthy welcomed the bill’s approval with a victory lap, downplaying worries about divides within the House Republican conference and celebrating the substantive concessions he gained in his negotiations with Biden.

“I was thinking about this day before I voted for speaker because I knew the debt ceiling was approaching.” And I wanted to leave my mark on history.

“I wanted to do something that no other Congress had done before,” McCarthy told reporters following the vote. “Tonight, we all made history.”

Biden praised the legislation’s passing in the House and urged the Senate to act promptly to avoid a default. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that the federal government cannot pay its debts beginning on June 5th unless the debt ceiling is lifted.

US House Approves Bill to Increase Debt Ceiling Shortly Before Potential Default

“This budget agreement is the result of a bipartisan compromise.” “Neither side received everything they desired,” Biden stated. “I have been clear that the only way forward is for both parties to support a bipartisan compromise.” This agreement meets that test.”

The House debt ceiling bill would extend the government’s borrowing cap until January 2025, ensuring the issue does not reappear before the next presidential election.

McCarthy successfully pressed for federal budget cutbacks and adjustments to the work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as part of his negotiations with Biden.

McCarthy’s compromises, however, fell far short of the demands of members of the freedom caucus, who had pressed for deeper spending cutbacks and significantly stricter work requirements for assistance programs.

They dismissed the debt ceiling settlement as a pitiful attempt to address the nation’s debt, which now exceeds $31 trillion.

Before the vote, Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, the chair of the Freedom Caucus, tweeted, “President Biden is happily sending Americans over yet another fiscal cliff, with far too many swampy Republicans behind the wheel of a ‘deal’ that fails miserably to address the real reason for our debt crisis: SPENDING.”

Members of the House Freedom Caucus attempted one more time on Wednesday afternoon to prevent the debt ceiling bill from moving forward by opposing a procedural motion before the final vote.

McCarthy needed Democratic help to approve the debt ceiling measure because 29 Republicans voted against it. In the end, 52 Democrats supported the motion, paving the way for the final vote and effectively securing the bill’s passage.

Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the House Democratic leader, ridiculed McCarthy’s failure to unite his party, claiming the procedural vote indicated the speaker had “lost control of the floor.”

“It’s an extraordinary act that demonstrates the nature of the out-of-control extremism on the other side of the aisle,” Jeffries said during the floor debate before the final vote.

“Extreme Maga Republicans took over the House floor.” Democrats reclaimed it for the sake of the American people.” Despite his harsh condemnation of McCarthy and his Republican colleagues, Jeffries and the majority of the House Democratic caucus voted to raise the debt ceiling.

Despite their criticism of the bill’s expenditure cuts, Democrats said that the critical need to avoid a default exceeded their personal worries about the law.

“Our constitution makes it perfectly clear that the validity of the United States’ public debt shall not be questioned,” stated former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California. “While I disagree with this legislation, it will prevent an unprecedented default that would devastate America’s families.”

However, hundreds of leftist members opposed the plan, calling McCarthy’s spending cuts and increased job requirements an insult to the voters who elected them.

“Republicans were never interested in reducing the deficit; they were only interested in imposing their anti-working-family policies under the threat of a catastrophic default,” said Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “The deal they passed tonight proves that point, and I could not be a part of their extortion scheme.”

Progressives in the Senate, including Senator Bernie Sanders, have repeated that critique and stated their intention to vote against the debt ceiling proposal, but it still appears likely to pass.

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Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Senate Democratic majority leader, has promised to act quickly to take up the bill after it has cleared the House.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Republican minority leader, has already stated his intention to support the measure.

“Any needless delay, any last-minute brinksmanship at this point would be an unacceptable risk,” Schumer said during a floor speech Wednesday morning. “Moving quickly and collaboratively to avoid default is both responsible and necessary.”

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