The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday, Sept. 21, approved legislation that seeks to suspend debt-ceiling limits a few days before the deadline. The bill must now face the Senate, where at least 10 Republicans would have to join Democrats to pass the measure.
Democrats in the House passed the bill to suspend the nation’s borrowing limit until the end of 2022, sending it to the Senate, where Republicans have vowed to block it, Reuters reported.
The bill passed on a 220-211 vote along party lines. Now the bill heads to the Senate, where nearly all Republicans have hinted that they will oppose a suspension of the debt limit.
But very cleverly, Democrats have attached the debt limit suspension to a bill that must be passed to avoid a government shutdown before Oct. 1, thereby seeking to pressure Republicans to abandon their opposition to the bill.
The debt limit was reinstated on Aug. 1, when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that if Congress does not raise or suspend the ceiling, the federal government will not be able to pay its commitments beginning in October.
Democrats say Republicans should work together and vote to suspend the debt limit, just as Democrats previously did under Republican administrations.
“I hope Republicans will be consistent and will do as they did before: vote to prevent a default and spare the American people from yet another damaging economic crisis right as we are coming out of a pandemic,” said House Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
For their part, Republicans argue that if the debt ceiling was reached so quickly, it was thanks to a waste of taxpayer funds by the Biden administration.
Thus, allowing the debt ceiling to be eliminated would imply some complicity with the mismanagement of funds constantly denounced by Republicans since the Biden administration came to power at the beginning of 2021.
According to a Fox News report, at least 103 House Republicans have pledged not to vote to raise the debt limit under any circumstances.
Instead, they say Democrats should “take responsibility for raising the debt ceiling” because of the trillions in government spending proposed and finalized unilaterally.
“Democrats have embarked on massive and unprecedented deficit spending. Without a single Republican vote, they passed a $1.9 trillion ‘COVID relief’ bill in March. Now they have passed a $3.5 trillion Budget Resolution, again without a single Republican vote,” the Republicans said in a letter on Aug. 30.
The situation has become highly complex. The Republicans must also withstand pressure from the business sectors, with whom they have historically shared the same line of thinking, at least on economic policies.
But now, should they default on debt payments or even come dangerously close to defaulting, it could undermine the nation’s credit rating and change the global financial system, posing a major risk to corporate stock prices and corporate bonds.
Nevertheless, Republicans so far say they will stand firm on their position, telling Democrats that just as they passed the $3.5 trillion budget resolution without any Republican votes in favor, using the reconciliation process to avoid the filibuster in the Senate, they should do the same with the debt limit and take responsibility for the consequences.