House Democrats forced through a bill on Tuesday creating a one-time exception to the filibuster to raise the nation’s borrowing limit before next week’s deadline.
In a narrow 222-to-212 vote, lawmakers passed the measure along nearly party lines with every single House Democrat and one Republican, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, voting in favor. The provision was included in a larger bill staving off automatic cuts to Medicare that are set to phase in starting in January.
“Let us remember that addressing the debt limit is not about future spending,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. “This is about meeting obligations that the government has already incurred, largely under the Trump administration.”
The bill now heads to the evenly-split Senate, where it will require the support of at least 10 Republicans to overcome the chamber’s long-standing filibuster rules.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, plans to bring the bill up for a vote before the end of the week. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is backing the measure and is expected to provide the votes required for passage.
“I think this is in the best interest of the country by avoiding a default,” said Mr. McConnell, a Kentucky Republican. “I think it is also in the best interest of Republicans.”
Generally, raising the debt limit requires at least 60 votes to overcome the chamber’s long-standing filibuster rules.
GOP lawmakers say the one-time carve out is a win because it pushes Democrats into raising the debt limit, a cap on how much the government can borrow to pay for federal expenditures, on their own.
“I think what the clear issue is … that the majority party has to deliver the votes to raise the debt limit,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune, South Dakota Republican, said. “The Democrats know that and they’re willing to do it.”
Senate Republicans further argue that the deal forces Democrats to stipulate a dollar figure by which they want to raise the debt ceiling. They say that transparency will show the American people the true cost of President Biden’s agenda.
“They want to own this massive increase in the debt that’s going to accommodate all the new spending they want to do,” Mr. Thune said. “We think that’s a perfectly appropriate way to handle this.”
Democratic lawmakers hope to pass a hike to the debt ceiling before Dec. 15, the date by which Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned the country will be at risk of defaulting on its debts.