House passes debt limit suspension linked to stopgap budget bill

According to The Washington Times, the House on Tuesday passed a bill that would suspend the debt limit until December 2022, and it was linked to a short-term funding bill necessary to keep the government going until December 2021 to avoid a government shutdown.

The bill passed on a party-line vote, 220–211, with no Republicans voting for the measure. Republicans have said that they want Democrats to use budget reconciliation to pass the debt limit bill, which they oppose because they don’t want to see Democrats spend trillions of more dollars on social programs.

Funding is currently set to run out on Sept. 30, which also happens to be the deadline to pass an annual budget. Going beyond the deadline without a funding solution could trigger a government shutdown on Oct. 1.

The debt limit was reinstated on Aug.1 after being suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Bloomberg, the U.S. Treasury has said that it will likely run out of funds sometime in October, which could cause the U.S. government to default on some of its existing debt.

McConnell not budging

While the bill passed the House, it is unlikely to get through the Senate, where 10 Republican votes are needed to bypass the filibuster to reach a final vote.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) has said he will not budge on the debt ceiling fight because he says he doesn’t agree with the Democrats’ policy agenda and spending plans.

“What we’re not prepared to do is to relieve the Democratic president, the Democratic House and Senate from their governing obligation to address the deficit,” McConnell said.

Up to four Republican senators might vote for the spending and debt limit suspension bill because Democrats have also linked tens of billions in disaster spending to the bill.

Louisiana Senator John Kennedy (R) has said he will vote for the bill because his state was hit hard by Hurricane Ida. “I need the help,” Kennedy said. “My people, I mean those in Southwest Louisiana … got hit with one of the most powerful storms that we’ve ever experienced.”

Romney not on board

Even moderate Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) isn’t willing to vote with Democrats on the bill.

“They don’t want a single Republican vote on spending measures, but they think we should have to raise the debt limit for them,” Romney said. “The Democrats could solve that problem all by themselves. They have the House, the Senate and the White House.”

Instead of solving the problem with the power that they currently hold, however, Democrats have decided to use the issue as leverage to get other spending measures that they want. This is why the Republicans largely oppose it, as well they should.

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