The Ceiling is Raised
Following the House approval to pass the measure to raise the debt ceiling till 2015 that occured on Tuesday, the Senate did not wait till after the three day weekend to vote and determine whether we would default on our loans. The Senate approved the measure, extending the debt ceiling out until March of 2015. However, the Republicans did not allow this bill to be passed quietly. We take a look at how the bill was passed, why the GOP wanted to allow the bill to pass, and why infighting put the GOP in a sticky situation.
How It Happened
After the Treasury Secretary Jack Lew pointed out last week that the deadline to raise the debt ceiling was on February 27th, the nation was put on notice that a decision had to be made sooner rather than later by their congressional representative in Washington. Given the fact that the government had experienced a shutdown in October of last year, it was imperative for Congress to find a way to work together and prevent another default for the United States.
Much of the American public had blamed the GOP as the primary cause of the shutdown. During the battles in October to approve the future government budget and up until this week, House Majority Leader John Boehner and the other GOP leaders had stuck to “the Boehner Rule” which stated that any bill meant to increase the debt limit would have to be tied to spending cuts and reforms that would be greater than the proposed increase. In October, the provision to cut the funding for Obamacare was what was tacked onto the proposed bill for the government budget. Neither side could reach a compromise, and the government was subsequently shut down.
So much for GOP solidarity
So when it came to the upcoming deadline to raise the debt ceiling, the Republicans were in a quandry. After taking a lot of negative press from the American public for the government shutdown fiasco, Boehner and the other GOP leaders pledged that congress would not allow a debt default. Internal conflict within the GOP prevented Boehner from being able to gain enough votes to pass any provisions to the debt ceiling limit, despite the fact that the Republicans controlled the House. There was no consensus among the Republicans, which was necessary for the Republicans to get the 218 votes required to add a provision to the bill. With no further recourse, Boehner allowed for a “clean” debt ceiling measure, one that had no additional provisions, to be put to a vote. The bill passed by a vote of 221-201.
When interviewed about the voting of the bill in the House of Representatives, Boehner expressed his disappointment that the bill was passed with no debt reducing provisions, but he did admit that allowing the debt ceiling to be raised would put aside the issue and allow the Republicans to focus on the contentious issue of Obamacare. Boehner explained that the Republicans were planning on giving Obama the minimum number of votes required to pass the bill so that the Democrats could be responsible for increasing the debt ceiling. With the upcoming congressional elections later this year, the GOP did not want any more negative publicity that could lose them seats in Congress.
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