by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The House passed legislation late Tuesday that will pave the way for Democrats to unilaterally raise the nation’s borrowing limit.
The measure authorizes fast-track consideration of a debt ceiling increase bill and will allow it to pass the Senate later this month with only 51 votes instead of the usual 60 votes.
The House passed the bill following weeks of negotiations in the Senate, where Republicans have refused to support a long-term increase in the debt limit.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said he agreed to the deal because it will not require any GOP lawmakers to vote to pass a debt limit increase.
But the measure passed by the House on Tuesday will require at least 10 Republicans in the Senate to overcome one procedural hurdle.
“I think this is in the best interest of the country by avoiding default,” McConnell said.
Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen has warned Congress that the federal government would run out of money to make payments by Dec. 15 unless lawmakers acted to raise the debt ceiling.
Republicans had refused to support anything beyond a short-term debt limit increase, arguing reckless spending by Democrats was forcing the nation into more debt.
The nation’s debt now tops $27 trillion, and the next long-term extension is expected to add approximately $2 trillion. Democrats are simultaneously working to pass President Joe Biden’s $2.4 trillion Build Back Better bill.
In a memo to fellow Democrats on Tuesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi sought to dispel the GOP argument that the next round of borrowing is needed to pay for spending by Biden and Democrats. Pelosi said only 3% of the current debt was incurred during Biden’s presidency.