With one eye on a rapidly shrinking calendar, Democrats in the House on Wednesday approved a stand-alone bill that would suspend the federal debt ceiling until December 16, 2022.
The bill passed 219-212, but it faces an unavoidable problem: Republicans have vowed not to support any effort to deal with the debt ceiling, making it virtually impossible to pass a bill without resorting to the filibuster-proof reconciliation process.
Earlier this week, Republicans in the Senate blocked two efforts to vote on a separate bill that would suspend the debt limit, amplifying concerns that Congress could push the economy into a potentially catastrophic crisis as soon as mid-October.
“We’re just asking Republicans to get out of the way,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pleaded on the Senate floor.
Internal resistance: Before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) faced resistance from some within her caucus who threatened to block the new bill due to concerns about the political damage they could suffer if they supported it. To win their support, Pelosi agreed to allow a vote on a bill that would create something like a fiscal report card for the U.S.
In a letter to Democratic lawmakers ahead of the vote, Pelosi said “the House plans to move forward to honor its responsibility to protect the American economy and American families from the catastrophe of a default by passing legislation to suspend the debt limit.”
Pelosi also made it clear who she blames for the last-minute legislative scramble: “We cannot and will not allow Republicans’ extremism and utter lack of concern for families to drive our economy into the ground,” she wrote.