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U.S. House approves bill to suspend debt limit, fund government

EconomySep 22, 2021 01:21AM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The sun rises behind U.S. Capitol ahead of a weekend "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, U.S., September 13, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

By Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats in the House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday to fund the U.S. government through Dec. 3 and suspend the nation's borrowing limit until the end of 2022, sending it to the Senate where Republicans have vowed to block it.

The House vote was 220-211 along party lines. It was unclear how soon the Senate would act.

If Republicans stick by their refusal to support the measure in the Senate, Democrats will have to come up with a new strategy or quickly face the twin problems of a government in partial shutdown that is unable to pay its bills and the risk of a default for the first time in modern history.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer set the stage on Monday for a showdown with Republicans when they said they would combine spending and debt measures in one bill, despite Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell's vow to block an increase in the $28.4 trillion debt ceiling.

On Tuesday, McConnell reiterated that vow. But he also said: "I want to repeat once again: America must never default. We never have and we never will."

Speaking to reporters, McConnell repeated an argument he has made for weeks, that it is the majority party's responsibility to raise the debt ceiling. That would have the effect of letting Republicans avoid voting for a debt limit increase ahead of next year's congressional elections.

After the House vote, McConnell and fellow Republican Senator Richard Shelby said they had introduced a bill to fund current government operations through Dec. 3, but without raising the debt limit.

Republicans have said Democrats could raise the debt limit on their own through reconciliation, a maneuver that gets around the Senate's rule that 60 of the chamber's 100 members must approve legislation. Democrats have resisted doing that so far, saying the vote to raise the debt limit should be a bipartisan one.

"Playing games with the debt ceiling is playing with fire and putting it on the back of the American people," Schumer said in a speech.

Schumer and Pelosi will meet with their fellow Democrat, President Joe Biden, at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, a source familiar with the planning said.

The meeting comes as Washington grapples with the twin deadlines of funding the government and raising the debt limit, as well as a Democratic push to pass Biden's mammoth $3.5 trillion domestic agenda, using the reconciliation maneuver.

SEPT. 30 DEADLINE

Congress faces a Sept. 30 deadline to approve stopgap funding that would avert partial government shutdowns with the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1.

The Treasury Department will some time in October exhaust its borrowing authority unless the debt limit is raised.

The bill would suspend the limit on government borrowing through December 2022.

The current debt ceiling already has been breached, with debt at $28.78 trillion. It is being financed temporarily through Treasury Department "extraordinary measures" that are projected to be exhausted in October.

As Congress hurtles toward a possible partial government shutdown if a deal is not reached, Democrats and Republicans both have warned of dire consequences, including eventual disruptions in benefit checks to veterans and Social Security retirement recipients.

Republicans said they would support a temporary spending bill to avert a shutdown if the debt limit extension were stripped out of the bill.

Schumer said a historic breach in borrowing authority could ripple through the U.S. economy, raising consumer interest rates and possibly forcing state governments to raise taxes to cover their higher interest payments.

"Republicans simply don't have to vote to force a default," Schumer said.

Republicans argued that while they do not want a debt default, they do not support increasing the borrowing limit at a time when Democrats aim to pass such a huge amount of new domestic spending - programs Democrats say will be paid for with tax increases on the wealthy and corporations.

"The bill that Speaker Pelosi is bringing through this week will not become law. They’re going to have to go back to the drawing board," No. 2 House Republican Steve Scalise told a news conference.

Schumer said much of the latest debt is related to spending that Republicans supported during Donald Trump's presidency, including December's emergency COVID-19 relief bill.

U.S. House approves bill to suspend debt limit, fund government
 

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Comments (19)
Chris Cummins
Chris Cummins Sep 22, 2021 12:46PM ET
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Jesus dislikes the poor. Glad the GOP is leading the charge against these free loaders. Jesus was huge on 2A! Jesus loves guns and he wants all Americans to have them and use them on one another. Go Jesus!
Shinobi Jack
Shinobi Jack Sep 22, 2021 3:28AM ET
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History Lesson : USA Defaulted in Aug 1971 when the Dollars promise to pay the bearer was broken. The dollar was as “good as gold” until then. Since then the FIAT Ponzi scheme has been getting worse.
Eudon Hickey
Eudon Hickey Sep 22, 2021 2:00AM ET
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Another lesson in history is, that once librals/socialist take over, it is the end of an era. Bye bye America and the world will be dragged down with it
ajay jayaraj
ajay jayaraj Sep 21, 2021 10:34PM ET
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if life has taught me anything it's that liberals love borrowing money and not laying it back.
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Sep 21, 2021 10:34PM ET
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Dems couldnt even approach Republican war spending and unfunded tax cuts if they tried
Brandon Olds
Brandon Olds Sep 21, 2021 10:34PM ET
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dems want to send money to their pet green projects and failed states like dump Cali and NY
Josh Davis
Josh Davis Sep 21, 2021 10:34PM ET
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Benjamin McIntire i dont know how to tell you this but each day your comments get worse and worse. Its down right laughable. News flash ben the reps and dems dont care about us as people. They dont know us our names our lives nothing. If we die tomorrow they couldnt care. So if i was you i would pick best candidate not best party.
Isidro Fernandez
Isidro Fernandez Sep 21, 2021 10:26PM ET
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How we spent 300 millions da day for 20 years and now there's no money to pay debt?
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Sep 21, 2021 10:26PM ET
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Conservatives all put their green accountant hats on as soon as they lose presidency, before that? All parties and free money for their rich pals
Mike Mike
Mike Mike Sep 21, 2021 9:53PM ET
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Just drop all welfare. Why pay parasites?
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Sep 21, 2021 9:53PM ET
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Just move to Libya bro they wont tax you one bit.
Dave Jones
Dave Jones Sep 21, 2021 9:48PM ET
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extend and pretend
Me comment
Me comment Sep 21, 2021 9:38PM ET
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Easily solve the debt problem stop all government funding to republican run states, tax all republicans at a 75% rate.
Liam Andrade
Liam Andrade Sep 21, 2021 9:38PM ET
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I like it! We'll call it civil war II, it'll be great!
Green Mango
Green Mango Sep 21, 2021 9:23PM ET
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Now any limit on spending sold as "default" on sovereign debt.  What a joke.  Dangerous game the Dems play, like opening the border to 7 billion people.  Thanks RINOs
Green Mango
Green Mango Sep 21, 2021 9:20PM ET
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Both parties would agree to rationally fund existing gov, bloated as it is.  But this overreach is the issue.  Blank check policy.  Reuters won't mention that.
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Sep 21, 2021 9:20PM ET
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Blank check policy? Wait, which admin started that?
Green Mango
Green Mango Sep 21, 2021 9:19PM ET
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Yea, my bank came to me and said, "We're going to suspend your debt limit for one year, till the end of 2022.  Go at it!"
Miles Mathewson
Miles Mathewson Sep 21, 2021 7:44PM ET
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Easy to spend when it's not up to you to pay. Democrats are a plague in this country ...founding fathers are rolling in their graves !
Rod Deh
Rod Deh Sep 21, 2021 6:43PM ET
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3.5 is over 10 years... still kind of high...use that money on better things like infrastructure or wind projects or whatever
Trevor Roberts
LimitUp Sep 21, 2021 6:43PM ET
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Those overgrown fans littering the countryside are awful, that is pollution to me.
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Sep 21, 2021 6:43PM ET
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Trevor Roberts triggered lmaoo
Rick Young
Rick Young Sep 21, 2021 3:00PM ET
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We could pay for all the things we need - like infrastructure, schools, etc. - without additional debt if we simply cut spending on foolish programs.  Yet Biden says he might have to cut Medicaid and food stamps if the debt ceiling isn't raised.  Why cut essential programs when there are plenty of non-essential ones that are utter wastes?
Felipe Daniel
Felipe Daniel Sep 21, 2021 1:11PM ET
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Democrats do not care about deficits, they want to tear America to the ground. This is simply a show to blame Republicans for their excessive spending.
Jeff Chevalier
Jeff Chevalier Sep 21, 2021 1:11PM ET
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Do you realize how stupid that sounds? The democrats are to blame because of republican spending?
Juniper Ls
Juniper Ls Sep 21, 2021 1:11PM ET
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The truth is Republicans do not care about deficits except when there is a Democrat in the White House. Don't get me wrong. I am angry at both for bringing us to the point of insurmountable national debt.
Josh Davis
Josh Davis Sep 21, 2021 1:11PM ET
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Juniper Ls us linertarians have been trying to tell everyone. The answer is smaller government. Reps and dems want bigger government. Us fiscally responsible people have always been against the deficit and spending. Reps and dems dont care
Max Chan
Max Chan Sep 21, 2021 12:08PM ET
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In the end, it is always the common folk that would suffer
Ferdinando Riboni
Ferdinando Riboni Sep 21, 2021 10:58AM ET
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Hard times prepare
Josh Davis
Josh Davis Sep 21, 2021 10:29AM ET
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Block them. Its time to pay the piper. We have bad economic policies those need to come to roost now so we can crash rebuild and be better.
taylor jason
taylor jason Sep 21, 2021 10:29AM ET
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paying for roads, school, and Healthcare, federal worker salaries. such totalitarian government indeed
Josh Davis
Josh Davis Sep 21, 2021 10:29AM ET
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taylor jason never said that im advocating for responsible spending you want that to be in their cut other programs. Also i guarantee the bulk majority wont be used on infrastructure just like all the bills in history that have ever passed….i bet you forgot all those already dem
Miles Mathewson
Miles Mathewson Sep 21, 2021 10:29AM ET
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taylor jason  this one bought the ticket for the circus
Pratt Man
Pratt Man Sep 21, 2021 10:29AM ET
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Democrats should add to the infrastructure bill the elimination of the need to raise the debt limit twice a year. They've been talking about it for 10 years, now they can do it.
Miles Mathewson
Miles Mathewson Sep 21, 2021 10:29AM ET
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yeah...just uncap it and let them spend everything there is...even your ****
 
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