NATIONAL NEWS

Congress sends Biden $2.5T debt limit hike, avoiding default

Dec 14, 2021, 11:22 PM

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks on the phone as he arrives on Capitol Hill on Oc...

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks on the phone as he arrives on Capitol Hill on October 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress has until October 18 to raise the debt ceiling or risk default that would have widespread economic consequences. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress averted a catastrophic debt default early Wednesday morning after Democratic majorities in both chambers voted to send a $2.5 trillion increase in the nation’s borrowing authority to President Joe Biden over lockstep Republican opposition.

Capping a marathon day, the House gave final approval to the legislation early Wednesday morning on a near-party-line 221-209 vote, defusing a volatile issue until after the 2022 midterm elections. The action came just hours shy of a deadline set by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who warned last month that she was running out of maneuvering room to avoid the nation’s first-ever default.

“The full faith and credit of the United States should never be questioned,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said from the House floor shortly before the vote.

Yet the bill — which drew only one Republican vote in the House, from Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger — also saddled vulnerable Democrats with a tough vote on the cusp of an election year when both chambers will be up for grabs.

Republicans, meanwhile, said they were perplexed by the Democrats’ scramble to act.

“Democrats have known this day is coming for two years and did absolutely nothing,“ said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas.

Despite a seemingly straightforward name, the nation’s debt limit does little to curtail future debt. Established in 1917, it instead serves as a brake on spending decisions already endorsed by Republicans and Democrats alike — in some cases decades ago — that if left unpaid could cripple markets, send the economy into a tailspin and shake global confidence in the U.S.

That hasn’t stopped Republican saber-rattling. For months, they’ve used the debt limit to attack Democrats’ big-spending social and environmental agenda while pledging to staunchly oppose the current effort to increase the threshold. As recently as October, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would not “be a party to any future effort to mitigate the consequences of Democratic mismanagement.”

Yet McConnell softened his opposition, striking a deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer last week that created a workaround that allowed Senate Democrats to approve legislation with a simple majority while avoiding a Republican filibuster.

“This is about paying debt accumulated by both parties,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday while hailing the agreement.

McConnell’s backtracking angered some in his party. But it also gave him much of what he wanted: Democrats taking a politically difficult vote without Republican support while increasing the limit by a staggering dollar figure that is sure to appear in future attack ads.

“If they jam through another taxing and spending spree this massive debt increase will just be the beginning,” the Kentucky Republican said Tuesday.

The decision didn’t sit well with Donald Trump.

The former president has railed against the deal repeatedly, calling McConnell a “Broken Old Crow” who “didn’t have the guts to play the Debt Ceiling card, which would have given the Republicans a complete victory on virtually everything.”

“GET RID OF MITCH!” Trump said in a statement issued Sunday.

Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah also criticized the intricate process Schumer and McConnell agreed to, which he warned could be used in the future to “launder” potentially unpopular votes.

Under the agreement, an amendment was made to an unrelated Medicare bill that passed last week with Republican votes. It created a one-time, fast-track process for raising the debt limit that allowed Democrats to do so with a simple majority, bypassing the 60-vote threshold to avoid a GOP filibuster.

Lee said the process was intended to make the Republican votes last week “appear as something other than helping Democrats raise the debt ceiling,” which he said Republican leadership “committed, in writing no less, not to do.”

Yet Republican arguments against debt limit increases often ignore inconvenient facts.

The nation’s current debt load of $28.9 trillion has been racking up for decades. Major drivers include popular spending programs, like Social Security and Medicare, interest on the debt, and recent COVID-19 relief packages. But taxation is also a major factor, and a series of tax cuts enacted by Republican presidents in recent decades have added to it, too.

That includes $7.8 trillion heaped onto the pile during Trump’s four-year presidency, an analysis of Treasury records shows. The GOP-championed 2017 tax cut is projected to add between $1 trillion and $2 trillion to the debt, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

A call about a suspicious vehicle in a Walmart parking lot in St. George ended with a couple of arr...

Collin Leonard, KSL.com

St. George police arrest man wanted in connection with Colorado attempted murder case

A call about a suspicious vehicle in a Walmart parking lot in St. George ended with a couple of arrests, including one person wanted in connection with an attempted murder in Colorado.

7 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley takes a question from an audience member during a tow...

Bridger Beal-Cvetko, KSL.com

Nikki Haley to visit Utah next week ahead of Super Tuesday presidential caucus votes

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley will visit Utah next Wednesday, ahead of the state's GOP presidential preference poll during caucus meetings on Super Tuesday.

10 hours ago

Beyoncé is pictured at the 2024 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.
Mandatory Credit:	Kevin Mazur/Getty ...

Alli Rosenbloom, CNN

Beyoncé debuts at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and makes history

Beyoncé’s new song “Texas Hold ‘Em” debuted in the top spot of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart on Tuesday.

11 hours ago

FILE - Portrait of British pop group The Beatles (L-R) Paul McCartney, George Harrison (1943 - 2001...

Jake Coyle, AP Film Writer

Beatles to get a Fab Four of biopics, with a movie each for Paul, John, George and Ringo

The Beatles are getting the big-screen biopic treatment in a Fab Four of movies that will give each band member their own film.

11 hours ago

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE - JULY 26: Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, departs the J. Caleb...

Associated Press

Ex-FBI informant charged with lying about Bidens had Russian intelligence contacts, prosecutors say

Prosecutors say a former FBI informant charged with making up a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme involving President Joe Biden had contacts with officials affiliated with Russian intelligence.

11 hours ago

Capital One is acquiring Discover Financial Services, a move that could disrupt the credit card ind...

Elisabeth Buchwald, CNN

America is on the cusp of a new biggest credit card company. Here’s what it could mean for you

Capitol One is acquiring Discover Financial Services in a $35.3 billion all-stock deal.

13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Congress sends Biden $2.5T debt limit hike, avoiding default