The House of Representatives voted late Tuesday to extend the federal debt ceiling through early December, sending the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk, who is expected to sign it.
The party-line vote of 219-206 approves an increase of $480 billion to the debt limit until Dec. 3, lifting it from $28.4 trillion to $28.9 trillion.
The move would temporarily avert a government default that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had previously warned would cause “irreparable” harm to the economy. The default was forecasted to happen by around Oct. 18, after which the Treasury department would be unable to meet the government’s financial obligations.
The legislation had passed the Senate last week on a party-line vote of 50–48, coming after 11 Republicans joined Democrats to end a filibuster that required 60 votes. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was among the 11 Republicans who sided with Democrats, but he voted against final passage.
With the debt ceiling pressure warded off for now, lawmakers continue to debate over two Democrat spending bills—a $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan with nearly $550 billion in new spending, and a $3.5 trillion effort that includes home health care and child care, education, safety net programs, and the environment. Both bills accord with the priorities in Biden’s jobs and families plan.
Congress will have to revisit the debt ceiling issue in December to avoid a government default.
McConnell told Biden on Oct. 8 that Republicans won’t help Democrats raise the debt limit again, and that Democrats would have to use the reconciliation process to pass such a bill through the upper chamber.
The reconciliation process would allow the Senate to pass by a simple majority instead of the 60 votes typically required. The 51-vote threshold can be achieved without any Republican votes in the 50-50 split Senate if Vice President Kamala Harris, who holds the title of Senate president, can give Democrats the majority with her tiebreaking vote. However, a single Democrat senator could still break ranks.