WASHINGTON — The House voted Tuesday to pass a short-term increase in the debt ceiling to enable the Treasury to continue borrowing money to pay the bills for two months, setting up another round of fighting about the limit.
The House voted 219-206 on partisan lines.
President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill, which moved forward Thursday after narrowly clearing the 60-vote threshold and passing the Senate.
The measure, the product of a last-minute deal struck in the Senate, offers only a temporary reprieve, and it is likely to set up another round of fighting in December.
It sets a new deadline of Dec. 3 to hit the debt ceiling again. Senators and aides said last week that the Treasury would most likely have some wiggle room beyond that to continue meeting obligations.
It would also set up another battle in December when the new deadline lapses. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., struggled to get Republican votes to approve the short-term deal after backing off his opposition in the final stages.
McConnell sent a letter Friday telling Biden that he “will not be a party to any future effort” to resolve the debt ceiling problem, insisting that Democrats use the more circuitous budget process, which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and numerous other Democratic senators have ruled out.
McConnell got rare criticism from Senate GOP colleagues for what they called a “capitulation” to Democrats, with some saying he “blinked” to save the filibuster rule as he sought to relieve pressure on pivotal centrist senators to use the so-called nuclear option to change the rules.
Former President Donald Trump, the de facto leader of the party, who appears to be building a campaign for the White House again, also piled on, dubbing him “folding Mitch McConnell” for agreeing to a debt limit increase without concessions. (In 2019, Trump argued as president that the debt ceiling should not be a bargaining chip.)
Increasing the debt limit does not authorize new spending. It enables the government to pay bills that Congress has racked up under the leadership of both parties over many years.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Tuesday there would be devastating economic consequences if the borrowing limit were to be breached.
She gave a boost to legislation by Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Pa., and Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., that would end the debt ceiling as it currently exists, by transferring the authority to raise it to the Treasury secretary rather than requiring a vote of Congress.
“I think it has merit,” Pelosi said, adding that Congress would be able to vote to overrule such a move.