January 25, 2022

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House passes procedural bill to raise the debt ceiling

House lawmakers passed a procedural bill Tuesday allowing the Senate to raise the debt ceiling by 222-212, clearing the way for Democrats to proceed without needing Republican support.

The bill now proceeds to the Senate, where at least 10 Republicans will have to join Democrats in voting in favor of the procedure. From there, the Senate will vote to raise the debt ceiling by a fixed dollar amount, with passage obtainable by a simple majority vote.

“Once the Senate has passed the legislation lifting the debt limit, the House will take up that bill and send it to the President,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to Democratic lawmakers ahead of the vote.

Only one Republican, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, voted for the House bill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of Calif., speaks during an enrollment ceremony for continued government funding, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) (AP Newsroom)

The procedural legislation stemmed from lengthy negotiations between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. The bill also includes measures preventing cuts to Medicare programs.

The maneuver will allow Congress to avoid a debt default while sidestepping a months-long partisan debate. Republican lawmakers say Democrats should raised the debt ceiling without their help, arguing any suspension of the limit would facilitate spending on costly social and climate programs included in President Biden’s “Build Back Better Act.”

“I believe we’ve reached here a solution to the debt ceiling issue that’s consistent with Republican views of raising the debt ceiling for this amount at this particular time and allows the Democrats to proudly own it, which they’re happy to do,” McConnell told reporters earlier in the day.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to reporters as intense negotiations continue to salvage a bipartisan infrastructure deal, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, July 27, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite / AP Newsroom)

The Senate is expected to vote on the procedural bill on Thursday. Both chambers of Congress would then vote on the terms of the debt limit itself.

For Democrats, the procedural bill addresses the debt ceiling without use of the budget reconciliation process, which Schumer and other party leaders say would be too risky.

“Our goal has been to increase the debt limit. We want a simple majority without a convoluted, risky, lengthy process, and it looks like the Republicans will help us facilitate that, so we feel very good about where we’re headed on the debt ceiling,” Schumer said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arrives at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021, as a showdown looms with Democrats over raising the debt limit. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (Associated Press)

Last month, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen informed lawmakers the federal government would reach its debt ceiling by Dec. 15 without action from Congress. Yellen and other top economic officials have warned of catastrophic consequences if the U.S. defaults on its debt obligations. 

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In October, Congressional lawmakers voted along party lines to approve a short-term fix which raised the borrowing cap by $480 billion.