Hoyer signals House vote on bill to ‘remove’ debt limit threat
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) signaled in a letter to colleagues on Saturday that the House may soon consider legislation to “remove” a debt limit threat, saying a vote could come as soon as this month.
“The House will explore options to remove the threat that the debt limit poses over the long term, now that Republicans have demonstrated a willingness to weaponize it for partisan purposes,” Hoyer wrote. “The House may consider legislation as early as this month to do so.”
Calls among Democrats to drastically change the way the government’s borrowing limit is raised have increased since this month’s standoff over the debt ceiling, when Republicans refused to provide votes to raise the limit.
The standoff ended after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and 10 other Republicans voted in favor of a procedural vote that paved the way for a two-month extension of the borrowing limit. McConnell came under criticism from former President Trump and other Republicans for agreeing to that deal.
The GOP’s filibuster had threatened to lead to a default on the debt. McConnell and Republicans said they did not want to vote to raise the debt ceiling at a time when Democrats are crafting a large spending measure they hope to move through Congress under rules that sidestep a Senate filibuster. McConnell says Democrats should include the debt hike in that bill.
Democrats counter that both parties voted for measures in the past that increased government spending and that both should vote to raise the debt ceiling.
President Biden signed the two-month extension, but Congress will have to take action again in December.
Calls to abolish the debt limit have been echoed by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who said in late September during a House hearing, “I believe it’s very destructive to the president and myself, the Treasury secretary, in the situation where we might be unable to pay the bills that result from those past decisions.”
It’s unclear how the House might sidestep a traditional debt hike, though a few ideas have been floated.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday expressed support for a proposal from House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) and Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) that would transfer the authority for raising it to the Treasury secretary instead of Congress.
“I think it has merit,” Pelosi said at a press conference in the Capitol.
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