House returns to avoid default with debt limit vote

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WASHINGTON (AP) – House members return to Washington on Tuesday to approve a short-term lifting of the country’s debt limit and ensure the federal government can continue to pay its bills in full until December.

The country’s $ 480 billion borrowing ceiling hike cleared the Senate last week in a party line vote. The House is expected to approve it quickly so President Joe Biden can sign it this week. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had warned that measures to avoid default on the country’s debts would be exhausted by Monday and that from then on the department would soon be unable to fully comply. government financial obligations.

A default would have immense fallout in global financial markets built on the foundation of US government debt. Routine government payments to Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and active-duty military personnel would also be called into question.

“It is glaring that our nation has been put in this place, but we must take immediate action to address the debt limit and ensure that the faith and credit of the United States remains intact,” the chief said. the majority in the House, Steny Hoyer, D-Md. .

But the relief provided by the passage of the bill will only be temporary, forcing Congress to reconsider the matter in December – a time when lawmakers will also work to complete federal spending bills and avoid a damaging government shutdown. The end-of-year backlog raises risks for both sides and threatens a tumultuous end to Biden’s first year in office.

The current impasse on the debt ceiling eased when Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Agreed to help push through the increase in the near term. But he insists he won’t do it again.

In a letter sent on Friday to Biden, McConnell said Democrats will have to deal with the next increase in the debt limit on their own using the same process they tried to use to pass Biden’s massive social and environmental spending plan. Reconciliation allows legislation to be passed by the Senate with 51 votes instead of the 60 that are typically required. In the 50-50 split Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris gives the Democrats a majority with her deciding vote.

Focusing on the debt ceiling, McConnell attempted to tie Biden’s sharp increase in federal government spending to the country’s growing indebtedness, even though they are separated and the debt ceiling will need to be increased or suspended whether or not Biden’s $ 3.5 trillion plan does. that in law.

“Your lieutenants on Capitol Hill now have the time they claimed lacked to settle the debt ceiling through a stand-alone reconciliation, and all the tools to do so,” McConnell said in the letter. “They can’t make up another crisis and ask for my help. ”

McConnell was one of 11 Republicans who sided with the Democrats in pushing the debt ceiling stay to a final vote. McConnell and his GOP colleagues subsequently voted against the final passage.

An agreement on a short-term solution came abruptly. Some Republican senators have said Democrats’ threats to remove the 60-vote threshold for debt ceiling votes – Biden called it a “real possibility” – had played a role in McConnell’s decision.

“I understand why the Republican leadership blinked, but I wish they hadn’t,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

The current debt ceiling is $ 28.4 trillion. Both sides have contributed to this charge with decisions that have left the government to rarely operate in the dark.

The calamitous ramifications of the default are why lawmakers have been able to come to a compromise to raise or suspend the debt ceiling some 18 times since 2002, often after frequent rounds of scams.

“Global financial markets and the economy would be turned upside down, and even if they were resolved quickly, Americans would pay for this default for generations,” warned a recent Moody’s Analytics report.


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