WASHINGTON – Congressional leaders on Tuesday reached an elaborate deal that will allow Democrats to lift the nation’s debt limit without a Republicans vote, likely averting another last-minute rush to avoid a federal default. Hours later, the House overwhelmingly passed laws based on which parties embarked on a multi-stage process.
Congress approved a $ 480 billion increase in the country’s debt limit in October. This is enough for the Treasury to fund government operations through Dec. 15, according to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s projection.
But Republicans have warned that they will not vote for a future increase in the debt ceiling to ensure the federal government can meet its financial obligations, and instead, the politically unpopular measure would have to be fully adopted by the majority. Democrat in both houses of Congress.
President Joe Biden had called on Republicans to “step aside” if they don’t help Democrats take responsibility for the debt. But rather than step back and allow a quick vote, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has helped design an unusual legislative process that will unfold over the next few days. Donald Trump, the former president, ridiculed McConnell for authorizing any action, showing how the routine act of paying the country’s bills has become politically toxic.
âI think it’s in the best interest of the country,â said McConnell, R-Ky. âI think it’s in the best interests of the Republicans as well, who are very convinced that the previous debt ceilings we agreed to when President Trump was here got us through August. And this current debt ceiling is indeed about the future and not the past. “
The deal spelled out in the House bill passed on Tuesday sets the process for several days to come. In short, it would incorporate a provision to speed up the debt limitation process into a stand-alone Medicare bill that would prevent payment cuts to doctors and other health care providers. The measure was passed by the House by a vote of 222-212 with only one Republican, Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, siding with the Democrats in voting for the measure.
âHouse Republicans cannot support the use of patients and access to local doctors as leverage to increase our children’s national debt,â said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas.
The measure now goes to the Senate, and if the Medicare Bill becomes law, it will open the process for the Senate to raise the debt ceiling through subsequent legislation with a single majority vote of democrats.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., has issued an optimistic note about the passage of the debt ceiling plan.
âThis is a very good result for the American people. We will avoid the default, which would have been disastrous. Democrats have always said we’re willing to shoulder the 50-vote load to make it happen as long as it isn’t a convoluted or risky process, and Chief McConnell and I made it happen. “
Key to the deal is that Democrats will have to vote on a specific amount by which the debt ceiling would be lifted. The amount has not yet been disclosed, but it is certainly a staggering sum. Republicans want to try and blame Democrats for the country’s growing indebtedness and tie it to Biden’s $ 1.85 trillion social and environmental bill.
âThat Democrats raise the debt ceiling and be held politically accountable for accumulating more debt is my goal, and it helps us get there,â said R-Texas Senator John Cornyn.
The increase in the debt ceiling is, however, necessary to meet the financial obligations accumulated by both parties under the previous legislation. The vast majority predate Biden’s presidency.
“This is about meeting the obligations the government has already undertaken, largely under the Trump administration,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to fellow Democrats. “Only three percent of the current debt has been accumulated under President Biden.”
Pelosi said tackling the debt ceiling would prevent a drastic increase in interest rates on auto loans, student debt, mortgages and other types of borrowing for Americans.
The bill before the House on Tuesday establishes a fast-track process for the days to come. A subsequent vote will be needed to pass the increase in the debt ceiling itself. Once the Senate does, the House will review the bill and send it to Biden for signature.
At their private lunch Thursday, Republican senators spoke out against the plan. Many of them will not support him.
GOP leadership Senator Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Said the lunch discussion went as planned – although he said the plan at least allowed Republicans to meet their goal to force Democrats to vote on their own to raise the debt ceiling by a specified amount.
Parliamentary machinations have struck some House lawmakers as an “absurd” but necessary means of dealing with the Senate, where filibuster rules allow the Republican minority to block action.
âWe are practicing parliamentary contortions to try to help the Senate cope with this straitjacket they’ve got themselves into,â said Representative Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Said. (PA)