House Democrats passed standalone legislation to raise the debt ceiling on Wednesday in a 219-212 vote, which is expected to be blocked by GOP lawmakers in the Senate in coming days.
Its largely symbolic passage comes two days after GOP lawmakers in the upper chamber blocked a House-passed stop-gap measure to keep the government funded through Dec. 3 and increase the federal government’s borrowing limit in addition to providing disaster relief and funds for the resettlement of Afghan refugees. Republicans in both chambers have said they won’t support raising the debt limit, arguing it would greenlight “inflationary spending” for Democrats’ partisan priorities as they look to move forward with a sweeping social spending bill aimed at tackling an array of the Biden administration’s top priorities.
Despite GOP pushback, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) stressed the need to increase the borrowing limit, noting that top economists and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have warned of catastrophic long-term consequences to the economy and the financial markets if the country defaults on its financial responsibilities.
“Today, we come to the floor about a very important issue of concern to the economic stability and fiscal soundness of our country. As you recall, Madam Speaker, last week, House Democrats honored our responsibility to the American people by voting on lifting the debt ceiling and on a Continuing Resolution to keep government open to avoid a devastating shutdown,” she said on the floor.
“Not one Republican voted to lift the debt ceiling or to keep government open even though there were important measures to address the people affected by Ida and help us help the evacuees from Afghanistan, other issues in there of concern to all Americans.”
“We know the full faith and credit of the United States of America should not be questioned. This is in the Constitution – 14th Amendment, Section IV states: ‘The validity of the public debt of the United States authorized by law… shall not be questioned.’ Shall not be questioned,” she added.
Republicans have held strong in their position, reiterating calls for Democrats to raise the borrowing limit using the reconciliation process, allowing them to bypass the 60-vote threshold in the Senate.
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Committee on Ways and Means, noted that Democrats have raised the debt limit along party lines in the past, adding that GOP lawmakers have cautioned they would not support the increase for months.
“While they lecture us about irresponsibility, here’s what we do know. This is a dangerous, irresponsible charade. Democrats are desperate to blame the GOP for this when in fact they’ve created this economic crisis. For two years, our Democrat colleagues have known this day was coming, two years, and never even passed a budget,” he said on the floor ahead of the vote.
“[They] Didn’t even try to pass a budget to deal with this, never sat down with republicans. Have rammed everything through this house this year, and now even though they have all the votes they need, they’re just playing political games. Willing to shut down this government, willing to deny disaster aid, willing to harm our economy and working families so they don’t have to raise this debt ceiling. The truth is, they don’t want to, they can, they don’t want to. They’re manufacturing a crisis.”
With a lack of GOP support, Democrats have been weighing their options on how to best move forward with addressing the matter as the Oct. 18 deadline quickly approaches, with members floating using the reconciliation process, passing a bill putting the responsibility of raising the debt limit into the hands of the Treasury secretary and potentially moving forward with a trillion dollar coin, which would not require congressional approval.