The House on Tuesday voted to lift the debt ceiling by $480 billion, temporarily averting widespread economic calamity after weeks of partisan gridlock and sending the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk.
The House briefly interrupted its weeklong recess to pass a rule governing debate for three separate bills to which the ceiling raise was attached. It passed on a party-line vote given Republicans continuing opposition to lifting the ceiling.
“This is our debt. This is America’s debt,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said ahead of the vote. “For any one of us to get up and say, ‘It’s your debt.’ It’s America’s debt and America pays its bills.”
Republicans, however, criticized the increase and the means by which it was passed. “This accomplishes nothing more than kicking the can down the road on something that should be addressed now,” said Minnesota Rep. Michelle Fischbach.
The fight over raising the debt limit intensified for weeks before the Senate reached a compromise and voted to lift it Thursday. Republicans, led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, gave Democrats the votes to overcome a filibuster and raise it, but only by enough to cover the nation’s expenses through about December.
McConnell had long-insisted that Democrats raise the ceiling using budget reconciliation, allowing it to bypass a filibuster, and has said they must do so when they need to raise it again. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, however, has refused to entertain the method, and lambasted Republicans on the Senate floor after the debt ceiling cleared a filibuster last week.
“Republicans played a dangerous and risky partisan game, and I am glad that their brinksmanship did not work,” Schumer said. “For the good of America’s families, for the good of our economy, Republicans must recognize in the future that they should approach fixing the debt limit in a bipartisan way.”
His comments drew bipartisan criticism, and McConnell swiftly came out and said that Democrats should not rely on any type of compromise in the future.
“Last night, in a bizarre spectacle, Senator Schumer exploded in a rant that was so partisan, angry, and corrosive that even Democratic Senators were visibly embarrassed by him and for him,” McConnell said. “This childish behavior only further alienated the Republican members who helped facilitate this short-term patch.”
“I am writing to make it clear that in light of Senator Schumer’s hysterics and my grave concerns about the ways that another vast, reckless partisan spending bill would hurt Americans and help China, I will not be a party to any future effort to mitigate the consequences of Democratic mismanagement,” he added.
In addition to the coming debt ceiling fight, lawmakers must also fund the government for the next fiscal year by Dec. 3 or face federal shutdown. Democrats are also trying to pass Biden’s sweeping budget and the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which have both fallen victim to party infighting.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that she wants to pass both bills before the end of October, but after Tuesday the House and Senate are out for the rest of the week, giving lawmakers just days to do so.
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