GOP debt ceiling plan advances in voice vote

The House voted Tuesday to advance GOP legislation to suspend the debt ceiling for 13 months, although dozens of Republicans voted against their leadership because the bill fails to make any offsetting cuts to federal spending.

In a voice vote, members approved a rule for the legislation, which sets up debate and a final vote later today. Many Republicans are expected to oppose the bill, but passage of the rule by voice makes it impossible to say how many would have opposed the rule.

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In the rule debate, only two Republican members spoke. One was Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.), who managed debate and blasted Democrats for resisting all GOP attempts to find ways to trim spending and cut the deficit and debt.

"The debt limit is a constant reminder of the imbalance of America's taxing and spending," he said. "We have a spending problem in this nation; everyone in this chamber knows it."

Woodall also defended House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who came under withering criticism today for advancing a debt ceiling bill that doesn't cut spending.

"When the Speaker of this United States House dug deep to try to find those answers, he could find none," Woodall said. "Not that there were no answers out there, of course there are. But there were not answers out there that could receive the approval of this body, the approval of the Senate, the signature of the President, and I have to ask why."

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) was the only Democrat to speak on the rule, and predicted that Democrats would help carry the bill to passage later today.

"Democrats, as they have been on so many other things we've tried to get to the floor, are more than willing to do our part for our country," she said.

The bill was put together quickly this morning after House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Republicans had no other choice but to call up a clean debt ceiling increase. Many conservative groups immediately said GOP leaders had capitulated to Democrats, but Boehner said there was no option that would win 218 Republican votes.

"We don't have 218 votes, and when you don't have 218 votes, you have nothing," he told reporters.

Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said they would vote for the bill later today.

The bill suspends the debt ceiling until March 15, 2015, allowing the government to borrow until that date, at which point the total debt accrued will become the new debt ceiling.

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