On Tuesday, Congress recently approved increased the federal government’s ability to borrow debt by $2.5T, thereby increasing the debt limit to an astonishing $31.4T. The legislation has subsequently been sent to the Biden administration to sign in order to avert a potential default on the government’s debt.
The approval of the increased debt limit emerges after months of wrangling between the Republicans and the Democrats, with the former aiming to force the Democrats into raising to debt limit on their own volition given their propensity for large federal expenditures.
However, a deal was struck last week between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) and Senate Majority House Leader Chuck Schumer, which led to the congressional vote on Tuesday. As part of the deal, normal Senate rules were disregarded, specifically the rule that requires for a minimum of 60 senators to agree upon advancing most legislation. The bill to increase the debt limit was passed earlier on Tuesday in a highly partisan 50-49 vote.
The House of Representatives, which features a Democrat majority, approved the bill in a 221-209 vote.
Schumer claims that the increased debt will help cover the federal government’s needs into 2023, well past the November 8, 2022 midterms that will determine which party controls Congress.
Previously, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had pressured Congress into increasing the debt limit prior to December 15.
Due to the strange deal developed between McConnell and Schumer, which was approved by both chambers in the preceding week, increasing the national debt was achieved via a simple majority, meaning that Democrats were able to increase the debt limit with virtually no Republican support.
Republican Representative Jodey Arrington informed the Rules Committee that he was gravely disappointed in McConnell’s decision to agree with the deal, given the unprecedented debt levels the nation currently faces. Arrington noted that the national debt is at its highest level since World War II, though the nation “ain’t in a war.”
However, the Chairman of the Rules Committee, Democrat Jim McGovern, informed Arrington that McConnell “understands that … not allowing [this bill] to go forward … would be ruinous to our economy.” McGovern also noted he “[doesn’t] normally have many nice things to say about Mitch McConnell,” though he apparently approves of McConnell’s acquiescence to Schumer.
The Rules Committee subsequently voted 9-4 in advancing the legislation to the House.
“Every Senate Democrat is going to vote along party lines to raise our nation’s debt limit by trillions of dollars,” McConnell proclaimed.
The Senate Minority Leader added that if the Democrats “jam through another reckless tax and spending spree,” then this first increase of the debt limit “will be just the beginning.”
Congress spent much of the month arguing over the debt increase, and representatives are now preparing to take a long vacation over the holidays.
Consequently, it remains unclear whether or not the Democrat will succeed in passing a gargantuan $1.75T welfare package by Christmas. However, enormous disagreements within the Democrat Party on the scope and scale of the Build Back Better (BBB) agenda have frustrated efforts to pass the pro-welfare bill.