House approves $290 billion increase in debt limit
By Perry Bacon Jr.
The House on Wednesday voted to increase the federal debt limit by $290 billion even as lawmakers from both parties expressed worry about a growing debt that is now more than $12 trillion.
The provision would allow the federal debt to rise to $12.4 trillion through government borrowing, an increase from the current limit of $12.1 trillion, which the government is expected to reach by New Year's Eve. The measure is likely to approved by the Senate before the end of the month.
The vote passed by a narrow 218 to 214 margin as 39 Democrats, many of whom could face tough re-election contests next year, opposed the provision, along with all 175 Republicans who voted.
"Let's get really serious about cutting spending, and the way we start is by saying no to increasing the debt limit," said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio.)
Congressional Democrats noted that many Republicans had voted for debt limit increases when George W. Bush was president and said increasing the limit was necessary to keep the government going.
The move came after Democratic leaders this week discarded a plan that would have increased the debt limit by more than $1.8 trillion, bowing to the concerns of conservative Democrats who want to see the party do more to reduce spending and cut the debt before approving such an increase.
The vote reflected the complicated politics of the deficit for Democrats. House leaders had abandoned a large debt increase in the face of conservative Democrats who had been demanding in exchange for their votes on the debt limit a new pay-as-you-go law that would bar Congress from increasing spending or cutting taxes unless the cost is offset by spending cuts or revenue increases elsewhere.
Fiscal conservatives in the Senate, meanwhile, led by Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), had been seeking the creation of a bipartisan commission with authority to force spending cuts or tax increases through Congress. At the same time, liberal Democrats are strongly pushing for Congress to pass additional programs to help stimulate the economy and create jobs, even if they increase the deficit in the short term.
Web Politics Editor
December 16, 2009; 5:38 PM ET
Categories: 44 Native , 44 The Obama Presidency
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