U.S. House approves short-term debt limit increase to avert default

Source: Xinhua| 2021-10-22 02:54:23|Editor: huaxia
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Photo taken on Sept. 30, 2021 shows the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., the United States. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

The temporary measure would raise the U.S. federal government's debt limit by 480 billion U.S. dollars, which would allow the U.S. Treasury Department to meet obligations through Dec. 3.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a bill to increase the nation's borrowing limit in the short term to avert a looming debt default, sending it to President Joe Biden's desk for his signature.

The House voted 219-206 along party lines to adopt a procedural rule, which automatically deemed as passed the short-term debt limit extension that the Senate approved last week.

The temporary measure would raise the federal government's debt limit by 480 billion U.S. dollars, which would allow the U.S. Treasury Department to meet obligations through Dec. 3.

The congressional approval of the temporary measure came as the Congress faces an Oct. 18 deadline to take action. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently warned that lawmakers have until this date to raise or suspend the debt limit before the federal government will likely run out of cash and extraordinary measures, possibly leading the United States to default on the national debt.

Another stopgap measure to fund the federal government also expires on Dec. 3, meaning Democrats and Republicans will have to reach a deal by early December to avoid the twin threats of a shutdown and a default.

In a letter to President Biden last Friday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, said that he will not provide "such assistance" again if his "all-Democrat government" drifts into another "avoidable crisis," adding the Democrats had three months' notice to handle the issue.

McConnell has repeatedly argued that Democrats should deal with the debt limit crisis on their own, since they control both chambers of Congress and the White House, while complaining about Democrats' lack of bipartisanship in crafting major spending bills.

"If they want to tax, borrow, and spend historic sums of money without our input, they will have to raise the debt limit without our help," McConnell said earlier.

Then U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (C) speaks at a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., the United States, on Dec. 15, 2020. (Tom Brenner/Pool via Xinhua)

Democrats, however, noted that raising the debt limit does not authorize new federal spending, but only allows the Treasury Department to borrow additional funds to cover expenditures that have already been approved by Congress, including COVID-19 relief bills and the tax cuts rolled out during the previous administration of President Donald Trump.

Maya MacGuineas, president of the watchdog Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, recently argued that paying the nation's bills should not be a partisan issue, urging Congress to address the debt ceiling as soon as possible.

"Both parties are responsible for our rising debt, which has grown more than 6.4 trillion dollars over the last two years," MacGuineas said. "Neither party can credibly claim the debt is solely the other party's fault or the other party's responsibility."

"You do not play chicken with the full faith and credit of the U.S. government; not now, not ever," she said.

During the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group, IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath told a virtual press conference Tuesday that she thinks it is "highly unproductive" to bicker over the U.S. debt ceiling.

"A point that we have been making for a while now is to have a more long-term solution to it," Gopinath said.

"And that could be done by replacing the debt ceiling with some kind of a medium term fiscal target, as opposed to the debt ceiling, or, automatically raising the debt ceiling whenever, to be in line with whatever it is in terms of taxes and appropriations that the Congress has approved, so it happens automatically," she added.

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