Government Connection

House Clears $2.5 Trillion Debt Ceiling Boost, Sends to Biden

The U.S. House voted Tuesday, December 14, 2021, to raise the nation’s debt ceiling by $2.5 trillion, an amount intended to extend the government’s borrowing authority past next year’s congressional elections and into early 2023. The 221 to 209 vote sends the bill to President Joe Biden for his signature. The Senate earlier in the day approved the bill in a 50-49 vote with only Democrats in support. The current federal debt is $28.9 trillion, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had warned that the government could have difficulty meeting its obligations after Dec. 15, though outside analysts have said default could possibly be staved off into January. The resolution of the latest debt standoff came as a result of legislation Congress approved last week which included a one-time process to fast-track a debt ceiling increase by shielding it from the threat of a GOP filibuster in the 50-50 Senate and allowing it to pass with a simple majority. House Republicans lined up to oppose the debt ceiling increase, arguing it should have been tied to spending cuts aimed at eliminating annual budget deficits and paying down the debt. Congress added $480 billion to the U.S. debt ceiling in October after weeks of partisan sniping that unnerved investors. This time, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed on a process that allows the debt ceiling to be lifted without any Republicans having to vote for it. Fourteen Republicans voted to advance the one-time provision, which McConnell said would force Democrats to “own” the debt ceiling increase. The bill’s passage sets up another showdown on the debt ceiling as soon as November 2022. If Democrats lose their majority in the midterm elections they may try to raise the ceiling again to avoid Republicans holding it hostage for spending cuts once Republicans take over. They would be able to do so using a fast-track budget reconciliation procedure.

December 16, 2021

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