The United States House of Representatives gave final approval on Tuesday to a bill passed by the Senate temporarily raising the government’s borrowing limit to $ 28.9 billion, pushing the risk of default to at least early December.
Democrats, who tightly control the House, have maintained party discipline to pass the $ 480 billion debt ceiling increase. The vote was party-oriented, with every Democrats ‘yes and Republicans’ no.
Joe Biden is expected to sign the measure this week, before Oct. 18, when the Treasury Department ruled he would no longer be able to pay the country’s debts without Congressional action.
Republicans insist Democrats should take responsibility for raising the debt ceiling because they want to spend billions of dollars to expand social programs and fight climate change. Democrats say the increased borrowing power is needed in large part to cover the cost of tax cuts and spending programs during Donald Trump’s administration, which House Republicans have backed.
The passage through the House dismissed fears that the world’s largest economy might default for the first time, but only for about seven weeks, paving the way for continued fighting between the parties.
Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell wrote to Biden on Friday that he would not be working with Democrats on another increase in the debt limit. McConnell was harshly criticized by Trump, the leader of the Republican Party, after the Senate vote.
Lawmakers also only have until Dec. 3 to pass spending legislation to prevent a government shutdown.
The Senate vote last week to increase the limit – which was more routine before the current era of fierce partisanship – has turned into a brawl. Republicans have tried to tie the measure to Biden’s goal of passing multibillion-dollar legislation to strengthen infrastructure and social services while tackling climate change.
In a press conference on Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was optimistic Democrats could craft changes to lower the cost of their social policy plans “in due course” .
In another sign that a compromise was possible, Progressive Democrats told reporters most of them wanted to keep all of the programs offered in the multibillion-dollar plan, while shortening the time frame to reduce its overall cost.
Biden suggested a range of more than $ 2 billion rather than the original target of $ 3.5 billion. In a briefing today, 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 has fewer dollars that will be spent. “
Psaki said conversations were ongoing between senior White House officials and the president as well as key Democrats such as West Virginia Senators Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema on how to cut the bill and what a smaller package would look like.
Psaki was asked if the president supports Pelosi’s strategy for the “Build Better” bill described in a letter she sent to caucus members on Monday, passing a bill with fewer programs that will receive. more funding. Although she did not confirm whether the president supported this specific strategy, Psaki noted that the bill would be smaller than the $ 3.5 billion originally offered by Biden and referred to Pelosi’s comments during of his press conference.
” What [Pelosi] said at this press conference is that “if there is less money to spend, there are choices that must be made”, and the president agrees … If it is less than 3, $ 5 billion, which we know will be, so there are choices that needs to be made, ”Psaki said.
“A bill that doesn’t pass means nothing changes,” Psaki said.
Gloria Oladipo contributed reporting