House Votes to Defuse Debt Limit Crisis

House votes to defuse debt limit crisisBy ANDREW TAYLOR

WASHINGTON (AP) - The House overwhelmingly passed a bill Wednesday to permit the government to borrow enough money to avoid a first-time default for at least four months, defusing a looming crisis setting up a springtime debate over taxes, spending and the deficit.

The House passed the measure on a bipartisan 285-144 vote as majority Republicans back away from their previous demand that any increase in the government's borrowing cap be paired with an equivalent level of spending cuts.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the chamber would immediately move to advance the legislation to the White House, which has announced Obama would sign it.

The measure would suspend the $16.4 trillion cap on federal borrowing and reset it on May 19 to reflect the additional borrowing required between the date the bill becomes law and then. The amount of borrowing required depends on the tax receipts received during filing season, but over a comparable period last year the government ran deficits in the range of $150 billion.

The measure also contains a provision that slaps at the Senate, which hasn't debated a budget since 2009, by withholding the pay for either House or Senate members if the chamber in which they serve fails to pass a budget plan. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., announced Wednesday that the chamber would indeed debate a budget this year but maintained the GOP's "no budget, no pay" move had nothing to do with the decision.

President Barack Obama vows not to negotiate over the debt ceiling as he did in the summer of 2011, though he promises further action on the budget. Wednesday's developments mark a shift of the budget debate away from failed head-to-head talks between Obama and Boehner

The idea driving the move by GOP leaders like Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is to re-sequence a series of upcoming budget battles, taking the threat of a potentially devastating government default off the table and instead setting up a clash in March over automatic across-the-board spending cuts set to strike the Pentagon and many domestic programs. Those cuts - postponed by the recent "fiscal cliff" deal - are the punishment for the failure of a 2011 congressional deficit-reduction supercommittee to reach an agreement.

This "no budget, no pay" idea had previously been regarded by many as a gimmick but has been given new life by Boehner as a "reform" to pair with an increase in the so-called debt limit. Boehner previously had insisted that any increase in borrowing authority to avoid lapses in payments to contractors, unemployment benefits or Social Security checks - and possibly even interest payments on U.S. Treasury obligations - be matched dollar for dollar with spending cuts. Many Republican speakers preferred to focus on the pay provision.

"This is not a gimmick," said Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick, R-Pa. "For the past almost going on now four years, our colleagues in the Senate have failed in their most basic responsibility of governance, which is to pass a budget."

"All we're saying is 'Congress follow the law. Do your work. Budget,'" said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. "And the reason for this (debt) extension is so that we can have the (budget) debate we need to have."

Boehner promises that the GOP blueprint will project a balanced budget at the end of a 10-year window.

"Balancing the budget over the next 10 years means that we save the future for our kids and our grandkids," Boehner said. "It also means that we strengthen programs like Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid that can't continue to exist in their current form without some kind of controls."

But the White House weighed in Tuesday with a statement that the administration would not oppose the debt measure, even though Obama just last week dismissed incremental increases in the debt ceiling as harmful to the economy.

It also appeared virtually certain that Senate Democrats would accept the bill even though they would prefer a longer-term solution to the debt issue and believe that the "no budget, no pay" provision is silly.

While the measure permits an undetermined amount of additional borrowing through May 18, the actual date in which the government might be at risk of defaulting on its obligations would be several weeks later. That's because the government would retain the ability to juggle its books through what the Treasury Department calls "extraordinary measures."

With the debt battle averted, the next fight comes in March over across-the-board cuts that would pare $85 billion from this year's budget. They were delayed from Jan. 1 until March 1 and reduced by $24 billion by the recently enacted tax bill. Defense hawks are particularly upset, saying the Pentagon cuts would devastate military readiness and cause havoc in defense contracting. The cuts, called a sequester in Washington-speak, were never intended to take effect but were instead aimed at driving the two sides to a large budget bargain in order to avoid them.

But Republicans and Obama now appear on a collision course over how to replace the across-the-board cuts. Obama and his Democratic allies insist that additional revenues be part of the solution; Republicans say further tax increases are off the table after the 10-year, $600 billion-plus increase in taxes on wealthier earners forced upon Republicans by Obama earlier this month.

"We are not going to raise taxes on the American people," Boehner told reporters Tuesday.

According to the latest calculations, which account for the recent reduction of this year's sequester from $109 billion to $85 billion, the Pentagon now faces a 7.3 percent across-the-board cut, while domestic agency budgets would absorb a 5.1 percent cut. The calculations are not official but were released Tuesday by Richard Kogan, a budget expert with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities think tank.

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jstottle

When are the American People going to realize that our so called president is thumbing his nose at us???

January 24 2013 at 1:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
grgfld1

Well?
Republicans
And
DEMOCRATS
AND very happy to be of the 1%.

Someone please tell me what the HELL's wrong with
All the people that run this country!!!!!!

Both

Democrats and Republicans
We're "broke"
And can't help
Our own
Seniors,
Veterans,
Orphans,
Homeless,
Etc.,???????????

In the last years we have provided direct cash aid to
Hamas - 351 M,
Libya 1.45 B,
Egypt - 397 M,
Mexico - 622 M,
Russia - 380 M,
Haiti - 1.4 B,
Jordan - 463 M,
Kenya - 816 M,
Sudan - 870 M,
Nigeria - 456 M,
Uganda - 451 M,
Congo - 359 M,
Ethiopia - 981 M,
Pakistan - 2 B,
South Africa - 566 M,
Senegal - 698 M,
Mozambique - 404 M,
Zambia - 331 M,
Kazakhstan - 304 M,
Iraq - 1.08 B,
Tanzania - 554 M,
With literally Billions of Dollars and they still hate us!!!!

Our retired seniors
Living on a 'fixed income'
Receive no aid

Nor do they get any breaks while our government
And religious organizations pour
Hundreds of Billions
Of $$$$$$'s and Tons of Food
To Foreign Countries!

We have
Hundreds of adoptable
Children who are shoved aside
To make room for
The adoption of
Foreign orphans.
AMERICA: a country where we have
Homeless without shelter, children going to bed hungry, elderly going without needed medication and mentally ill without treatment -etc.
YET.......................

They have
A 'Benefit'
For the people of Haiti on 12 TV stations,
Ships and planes lining up with food, water, tents clothes, bedding, doctors and medical supplies.

Imagine if
The *GOVERNMENT*
Gave 'US' the same support they give to other countries.

Sad isn't it?

99% of people won't have the guts to forward this.

I'm one of the 1% --

January 24 2013 at 12:06 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
tmoschetti

I believe you mean that the congess voted to deepen our bebt crisis because they are addicted to helping our out of control president spend a TRILLION dollars a year more than we are taking in!

And we don't even have to guess what tha bodes for our future, because we can simply look at Greece, Spain, Italy, and a few more Socialist countries. We are now borrowing FORTY cents of every dollar we spend. That is a model for disaster.

We have a president that has no clue. His stated goal was to "fundamentally transform" our coiuntry to make certain we are no morfe powerful or more wealthy than the other 192 countries in the world. He's succeeding beyond imagination.

He is doing to this country what Socialist have done to the above named countries and more. Greece and Spain have unemployment rates above 26% so how they possibly EVER pay down their debt with so few people paying taxes? We now have almost half the country paying NO income taxes as we spend more and more money. Even you "low information" Obama supporters should be able to figure out how that story ends.

We are now 166th in the world in economic growth, below economic Utopias like Cuba, Albania, Egypt and MEXICO! How did collectivism work out for the Sovier Union! The Western European Social Democracies are imploding. Yet our president and his like-minded friends in the senate want to move us in the direction that has failed everywhere it's been tried.

January 24 2013 at 10:17 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
FSHNT21

Just curious...
Federal Law mandates that Congress pass a Budget EVERY year...
How is it that these criminals have not been arrested and prosecuted for willfully violating that law... .???

January 24 2013 at 9:46 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Jim Marcum

You know you live in a Country run by idiots if...
Your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more of our money.

January 24 2013 at 9:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
patsy

What is it going to take for the people to see what Obama is trying to do to this country. The democrats will destroy this country with spending, Obama forgot one thing the rich can leave the country, who to tax next then..

January 24 2013 at 9:04 AM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
Richard

Those House members who give away the farm on our debt ceiling will be dealt with during the 2014 elections. I see a number of "former" Congressmen/women replaced by those having the stones to stand up for what they believe.

January 24 2013 at 9:03 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
democrackso

boehnerisababy
I get my skin color out of a spray bottle, GOLDEN GLOW.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Too bad. You have a real problem. Do you have to sell your foodstamps to buy it.

January 24 2013 at 1:13 AM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply
democrackso

boehnerisababy
John Boehner: Obama On A Mission To 'Annihilate The Republican Party'

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Copy and paste BS from Obamas favorite freeloading welfare recipient.

January 24 2013 at 1:05 AM Report abuse -8 rate up rate down Reply
boehnerisababy

John Boehner: Obama On A Mission To 'Annihilate The Republican Party'
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Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) warned fellow Republicans this week, saying President Barack Obama's inaugural address had convinced him that the president was undertaking an effort to "annihilate" the GOP.

"Given what we heard yesterday about the president's vision for his second term, it's pretty clear to me -- should be clear to all of you -- that he knows he can't do any of that as long as the House is controlled by Republicans," Boehner said during a speech at the Ripon Society on Tuesday. "So we're expecting over the next 22 months to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party."

Boehner continued, claiming that the broader goal of the administration was "to just shove us into the dustbin of history."

On Monday, Obama marked his second inauguration with a speech that was regarded by pundits on both sides of the aisle as an unapologetic and aggressive defense of progressive and liberal priorities.

HuffPost's Sam Stein reported at the time:

The president’s supporters and even casual defenders will, undoubtedly, cheer this second inaugural address in a way that they never fully did the first -- a lofty, historic but somewhat unmemorable speech. His critics will take it as affirmation of a liberal agenda that they’ve often warned is coming once the burdens of reelection are gone.
Those reactions are predictable and, ultimately, disposable. What matters more is the extent to which the president acts upon the vision he outlined. The second inaugural address showcased an unapologetic president. Time will tell if Monday was just a few lines in a speech or a new, dedicated mindset for the nation's leader.


While some on the left were energized by Obama's tone, Republican lawmakers criticized the speech as overly partisan, as well as a sign that gridlock and obstruction are destined to prevail in Washington. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) decried the address during a press conference on Tuesday.

"One thing is clear from the president's speech: The era of liberalism is back. His unabashedly far-left-of-center inaugural speech certainly brings back memories of the Democratic Party in ages past," McConnell said. "If the president pursued that kind of agenda, obviously it's not designed to bring us together, and certainly not designed to deal with the transcendent issue of our era, which is deficits and debt."

January 23 2013 at 9:58 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to boehnerisababy's comment
boehnerisababy

BOO........HOO........HOO!!!!!.......I think Im going to have a nervous breakdown! Obama wants to annihilate me and the republican party. Can somebody help me!!!!!!!!!

January 23 2013 at 10:01 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply