Current World Debt: $55.3 trillion | U.S.: $19.97 trillion | UK: $2 trillion | China: $1.7 trillion | Canada: $1.67 trillion | Brazil: $1.67 trillion

House Passes Debt Ceiling Hike 221-201


This vote sets the debt ceiling – $17.2 trillion – until March 15, 2015.



Lawmakers are poised to again suspend the debt ceiling — at a level that’s now about $512 billion higher than it was last fall.

On Tuesday, the Treasury Department reported that the nation’s borrowing limit automatically reset to roughly $17.2 trillion, after the last suspension expired on Friday.

Here’s why: Suspensions have become lawmakers’ favorite way of “raising” the debt ceiling. They let Treasury borrow as needed to pay the bills and avert default. And when the suspension ends, the debt limit resets to the old cap plus whatever Treasury borrowed during the suspension period.

In other words, a suspension doesn’t technically raise the debt ceiling, but that’s the net effect.

The beauty for Congress is that lawmakers don’t have to go on record as voting for a formal increase by a specific dollar amount.

The reset to $17,211,558,177,668.77 marks the fifth effective increase in the debt ceiling since August 1, 2011, when it was $14.3 trillion.

Treasury last week announced that it had begun to use special accounting maneuvers to make sure the country doesn’t breach the limit, something it was forced to do because Congress has yet to raise or extend the borrowing limit as needed.

But House Republicans on Tuesday said they would drop their demands for concessions tied to a debt limit extension. So House Speaker John Boehner brought a “clean” debt ceiling bill to the floor for a vote, and it passed Tuesday evening with just 28 Republicans backing the measure.

It is now set to move to the Senate, where it is expected to pass as well. But if there are any delays there, chances are lawmakers won’t take up the bill until the week of February 24, after they return from their President’s Day recess.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has warned that he doesn’t think the extraordinary measures at his disposal will last longer than February 27.

Budget experts say the debt ceiling is a flawed concept since the decision to raise it is almost always divorced from the decision to pass spending and tax policies that obligate Treasury to borrow more in the future.

First Published: February 11, 2014: 4:32 PM ET

Roll Call Votes: 221 Yea | 28 Republican; 193 Democrat || 201 Nay | 199 Republican; 2 Democrat

[Republican | Democrat]





Not Voting


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