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Democrats Pass Bill to Raise Debt Ceiling Through Early December Without One GOP Vote

Democrats Pass Bill to Raise Debt Ceiling Through Early December Without One GOP Vote

Nancy Pelosi says the enemy is within

The Senate’s vote last week to raise the limit turned into a fight as Republicans tried to link the measure to President Joe Biden’s goal of passing multitrillion-dollar legislation to bolster infrastructure and social services while fighting climate change.

Republicans continue to insist that Democrats should take responsibility for raising the debt limit because they want to spend trillions of dollars to expand social programs and tackle climate change. Democrats say the increased borrowing authority is needed largely to cover the cost of tax cuts and spending programs during Donald Trump’s administration, which House Republicans supported. But ultimately, the House of Representatives voted in support of a Senate-passed bill temporarily raising the government’s borrowing limit to $28.9tn, putting off the risk of default at least until early December.

Photo by Graeme Jennings-Pool/Getty Images

Democrats were able to pass the hard-fought, $480bn debt limit increase, despite their narrow margin of control in Congress. The vote was along party lines, with every yes from Democrats and every no from Republicans. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the measure into law this week before the October 18th threshold, when the Treasury Department has estimated it would no longer be able to pay the nation’s debts without congressional action.

Congress now has until December 3rd to pass spending legislation to prevent a government shutdown. But Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote to President Biden last Friday and indicated that he would not work with Democrats on another debt limit increase. McConnell was harshly criticized by Trump, the Republican party’s leader, after the Senate vote.


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In another sign compromise was possible, progressive Democrats told reporters that most of them wanted to keep all the proposed programs in the multitrillion-dollar plan while shortening the time period to cut its overall cost. At a news conference on Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was “optimistic” that Democrats could work out changes to reduce the cost of their social policy plans “in a timely fashion”.

President Biden has suggested a range of more like $2tn rather than the initial $3.5tn target. At a briefing Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters: “We are at a point where there are choices that need to be made, given that there are fewer dollars that will be spent.” Psaki also said that the conversations are ongoing between White House senior staff and the president as well as key Democrats such as senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona about how to trim the bill and what a smaller package would look like.

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