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House Approves Temporary Extension of Debt Limit

October 13, 2021 by Dan McCue
Rep. Michelle Fischbach, R-Minn, looks at the final version of the bill to increase the debt limit as the House Rules Committee meets at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON – Surprising no one, the House did what it had to do Tuesday night, extending the nation’s borrowing authority — otherwise known as the debt ceiling — until Dec. 3.

President Joe Biden is expected to sign the legislation, which passed in the Senate last week, sometime on Wednesday.

The measure passed by the House is far shorter than the original bill, which called for suspending the debt ceiling through the midterm elections.

That measure was repeatedly blocked by Senate Republicans until a short-term compromise was proposed.

Technically speaking, the vote in the House was on the rule providing for consideration of the temporary debt limit extension. With the passage of the rule, the extension would be considered passed as well

In an impassioned speech before the vote, House Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern, D-Mass, urged his colleagues to get on board.

“We are the precipice of what economists have called financial Armageddon,” he said. “Mark Zandi, [chief economist of Moody’s Analytics] has said, ‘Even if resolved quickly, Americans would pay for this default for generations.’

“If we defaulted, 6 million jobs would be lost; unemployment would skyrocket to 9%; and $15 trillion in household wealth would be wiped away,” McGovern continued. “Don’t take my word for it. That’s according to the nonpartisan Moody’s Analytics.”

The committee chairman then went on to assail House Republicans who were largely absent for the vote.

“This isn’t about whether you like Mitch McConnell’s compromise. I sure don’t,” McGovern said. “I wanted to take the debt ceiling head-on in a longer-term way. This is about whether or not we want to cause a financial catastrophe that will be felt for generations.”

“One-hundred ninety-eight Republicans voted to leave town, to adjourn this Congress without solving the massive problem in front of us … but I choose to focus on the 223 members, including five Republicans, who voted to stay here today to pay our bills,” he said.

“I urge my colleagues: vote yes on this rule, vote yes on protecting the full faith and credit of the United States, and vote yes on preventing financial Armageddon,” he said.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was equally emphatic in his remarks.

“This is our debt,” he said. “It is America’s debt.”

He went on to say the level of government spending and debt is the responsibility of both parties, rejecting Republican claims Democrats have sunk the nation into a massive hole and are intent on making it deeper.

“I emphatically deny that assertion,” Hoyer said.

“We have different priorities. Different perspectives. Different mandates. But every time we cut revenues or we approve spending, we raise the debt limit,” he said. 

“Nobody has clean hands when it comes to the debt limit. We all tend to rationalize that it is somebody else’s debt. Let me repeat, it is our debt, America’s debt, and I will tell you this. I would hope that if only one of us of our 435, if only one of us had the decision to make as to whether we increase the debt limit or not, I hope that not a single one of us would say no,” Hoyer continued.

“It has been our shared determination as responsible parties loyal to the Constitution and country that the costs we have incurred on behalf of the American people must be paid. … Don’t vote against your country’s full faith and credit. Don’t vote against your country’s credit,” he said.

Like McGovern, Hoyer said he didn’t like the compromise temporary debt limit extension the Senate sent to the house, dismissing it as “a lousy deal.”

“If I was voting on the merits of this deal, I would vote no,” the majority leader admitted. “It holds hostage the debt and credit of the United States for another two months. And then we’re going to play this game one more time, a despicable and irresponsible act for adults who know better.”

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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