Lawmakers in the House voted to pass a debt ceiling bill on Wednesday that would suspend the federal debt limit through to Dec. 17, 2022.
In a 219–212 vote along party lines, the measure comes just weeks before the federal government would default on debt.
Two Democrats voted against the bill, Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Jared Golden (D-Maine), while Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) voted in favor of it.
The legislation now heads to the Senate.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Sept. 22, “We all agree, America must never default. The debt ceiling will need to be raised.”
But the Democrats’ “reckless” spending plans, including one measure that’s been pegged at $3.5 trillion, and the way in which Democrats have been operating “on a partisan basis,” means that the party will have to figure out how to raise the debt ceiling without Republican votes, he said.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Tuesday warned members of Congress that the United States’ cash reserves will likely be exhausted unless lawmakers vote to raise or suspend the debt ceiling by Oct. 18, warning that it’s not clear if the United States would be able to meet all of its financial obligations if no deal is passed by then.
Yellen on Tuesday warned that if the Oct. 18 deadline is reached without lawmakers voting to raise or suspend the debt ceiling, “we expect Treasury would be left with very limited resources that would be depleted quickly.”
It is “uncertain whether we could continue to meet all the nation’s commitments after that date,” she added.
On Sept. 27, Senate Republicans shot down debate on a resolution to fund the government through December. All 50 GOP senators voted against the House-approved bill that combined a continuing resolution that funds the government until Dec. 3 and suspends the debt limit until the end of 2022.
In a 48–50 vote, the bill failed to clear the 60-vote filibuster hurdle needed to end debate in the upper chamber.
“Bipartisanship is not a light switch: a light switch that Democrats get to flip on when they need to borrow money and switch off when they want to spend money,” McConnell said Sept. 27.
“As default gets closer and closer to becoming a reality, our Republican colleagues will be forced to ask themselves how long they are going to continue playing political games while the economic stability of our country is at risk,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Wednesday morning.
Democrats and Republicans worked out a suspension of the debt ceiling in 2019 when it was suspended for two years, but it came back into effect on July 31. The ceiling is the highest amount of debt that the Department of Treasury can issue to the public or other federal agencies, according to the Congressional Budget Office. It was reset in 2021 to $22 trillion, plus the borrowing that took place during the suspension.
Zachary Stieber and Jack Phillips contributed to this report.