House approves resolution opposing $500 billion debt-ceiling increase

The House on Wednesday passed a resolution disapproving of an expected $500 billion increase in the debt ceiling that — despite the vote — is expected to take effect this month.

Members voted 232-186 in favor of the resolution, H.J.Res. 77. Only five Republicans voted against the measure, and the 228 Republicans who supported it were joined by just four Democrats.

{mosads}The House vote likely means little in practical terms, as the Senate last week defeated a similar resolution in a procedural vote, and both the House and Senate would need to approve the resolution in order to block the debt-ceiling hike. Even if both bodies approved it, President Obama could veto that vote, and force Congress to override his veto.

The ability of Congress to have a say in the $500 billion increase was agreed to as part of the contentious debt-ceiling agreement in August. That agreement also allowed an immediate $400 billion increase in the debt ceiling.

Democrats said consideration of the resolution in light of the Senates rejection made it a waste of time.

“This bill is a phony,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). “This is pure politics because the United States Senate has already rejected this bill, and only one house needed to reject it.”

During nearly two hours of debate on the resolution, House Democrats mocked Republicans for bringing it up at all, particularly after most Republicans agreed just last month to support the agreement that allowed the federal debt ceiling to rise in return for plans to cut $1.5 trillion — or more — in planned spending.

“We have members on the majority side who have trouble explaining to their primary voters why they had a temporary embrace of reality,” Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said. “So having done what they had to do, they now want to pretend that they’re going to undo it.”

Frank also charged that Republicans are disingenuous about wanting to reduce the deficit, given that they have supported wars and tax cuts in the past without paying for them.

Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) called on members of the House to support the resolution in order to remind President Obama “how serious we are about this issue.”

“This war on our national debt is going to go on for many years to come, but we need to take those first steps,” Reed said.

House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (Calif.) was one of the five House Republicans to vote against the resolution. A staffer said Dreier acted consistently with his Aug. 1 vote in favor of the debt-ceiling agreement, which called for this scheduled increase. 

Three other Republicans followed the same pattern of voting for the debt deal and voting against the resolution on Wednesday: Reps. Brian Bilbray (Calif.), Vern Buchanan (Fla.) and Jim Renacci (Ohio).

A fifth Republican who voted against the resolution, Rep. Phil Gingrey (Ga.), voted against the debt-ceiling deal in August.

Two other Republicans voted “present”: Reps. Reid Ribble (Wis.) and Joe Walsh (Ill.).

Only four Democrats voted for the resolution: Reps. Jason Altmire (Pa.), Larry Kissell (N.C.), Jim Matheson (Utah), and Mike McIntyre (N.C.).

Rep. Sandy Levin (Mich.) and other Democrats also charged Republicans with wasting time that could be better spent working on legislation aimed at creating jobs.

“This resolution is a dangerous distraction from the unprecedented challenge before us,” Levin said, adding that the House should be focused on passing Obama’s jobs plan.

But House Republicans have all but rejected the president’s plan because it proposes paying for billions of dollars in new spending with tax increases.

—This story was posted at 3:01 p.m. and updated at 8:11 p.m.

Tags Jim Matheson Phil Gingrey Reid Ribble

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