Political Buzz June 1, 2011: House Vote Rejects Increase in National Debt Ceiling


By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.


House rejects proposal to raise debt ceiling: The House rejected a plan to raise the limit on government borrowing, in a symbolic vote of 318 to 97, setting the stage for a contentious debate with President Obama over debt reduction.

House Vote 379 – Rejects Increase in National Debt Ceiling: Yes: 97 Democrats
No: 318; 236 Republicans, 82 Democrats
Present: 7 Democrats
Did Not Vote: 10

H.R.1954 — To implement the President’s request to increase the statutory limit on the public debt. (Introduced in House – IH) 112th CONGRESS — 1st Session — H. R. 1954 — FULL TEXT OF BILL

  • Eric Cantor: Tonight’s House vote against a clean debt limit increase should serve as a clear demonstration to Secretary Geithner that there is no support in the House for a debt limit increase without real spending cuts and binding budget process reforms.
  • Debt-limit hike fails in House in symbolic vote: The House of Representatives on Tuesday defeated a bill to raise the debt limit in a vote staged by Republicans to strengthen their push for deep spending cuts in negotiations with the White House.
    By a vote of 318-97, the chamber overwhelmingly rejected President Barack Obama’s call to increase the $14.3 trillion debt limit without conditions. Even some Democrats supporting Obama’s position voted against it.
    “I’m going to advise my members that they not subject themselves to the demagoguery that is sure to follow” if they vote for the measure, chief Democratic vote-counter Steny Hoyer said before the vote.
    Polls show the public does not support a further increase in borrowing authority even as the Treasury Department scrambles to avoid a default that could push the country back into recession and rattle markets across the globe. Reuters, 5-31-11
  • House rejects bill to increase federal debt ceiling: With an August deadline looming, the House overwhelmingly refused Tuesday to raise the legal limit on government borrowing, setting the stage for a long, sweaty summer of haggling over the shape of the largest debt-reduction package in at least two decades.
    The vote was 318-97, with not a single GOP lawmaker supporting the measure to raise the limit on the national debt from $14.3 trillion to $16.7 trillion – a sum sufficient to cover the government’s bills through the end of next year. Republican leaders said their troops would reject any increase without a plan to sharply curtail spending and, thus, future borrowing.
    “The American people are fed up with an endless diet of debt-backed spending,” said Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., a member of the House Budget Committee. Without “a solid, long-term balanced budget plan, it is simply foolish to continue to increase the nation’s debt limit.”
    Democrats, too, are leery of supporting a higher debt limit, which polls show is extremely unpopular with a large majority of voters. On Tuesday, they abandoned the debt-limit measure in droves, ignoring a long-standing request from the Obama administration to raise the limit before plunging into a complex and politically difficult battle over the size of the federal budget.
    “I don’t intend to advise our members to subject themselves to a 30-second political ad and attack,” House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said hours before the vote, noting that GOP leaders had offered the bill with the intention of letting their members vote against it…. – WaPo, 6-1-11
  • Pressing Obama, House Bars Rise for Debt Ceiling: The House on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a measure to increase the government’s debt limit, acting on a vote staged by Republican leaders to pressure President Obama to agree to deep spending cuts.
    Dave Camp of Michigan said a vote “will and must fail.”
    Republicans brought up the measure, which was defeated 318 to 97, to show the lack of support in the House for raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling without concrete steps to rein in chronic budget deficits.
    The preordained outcome followed several acts of odd political theater on the House floor: Republicans urged the defeat of their own measure, while Democrats — who not long ago were seeking just such a vote to raise the debt ceiling without attaching spending cuts — assailed Republicans for bringing it up, saying its certain defeat might unnerve the financial markets.
    Just in case, Republican leaders scheduled the vote for after the stock market’s close, and in the preceding days called Wall Street executives to assure them that the vote was just for show, to show Mr. Obama that he would have to make concessions in budget negotiations if a debt-limit increase is to pass Congress…. – NYT, 6-1-11
  • Republicans press Obama on spending: Top House Republicans pressed President Barack Obama Wednesday for a detailed plan on budget cuts, and one leading lawmaker accused him of distorting a GOP Medicare proposal at the center of the partisan divide over spending.
    White House press secretary Jay Carney said the meeting was productive despite the absence of any signs of progress. He also made clear that Obama has no intention of letting up on his assertions that Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to send future Medicare recipients into the private insurance marketplace will “end Medicare as we know it.”
    “He doesn’t believe that we need to end Medicare as we know it,” Carney said at a White House briefing, about an hour after the East Room meeting between Obama and House Republicans.
    The White House session came as the GOP sought to build pressure on Obama for trillions in spending cuts in exchange for any increase in the government’s ability to borrow.
    Afterward, dozens of rank-and-file GOP lawmakers streamed out of the front door of the White House and into a caravan of blue buses waiting for them on Pennsylvania Avenue, while members of the GOP leadership stopped on the driveway to speak to reporters and camera crews awaiting them in under a steaming sun…. – AP, 6-1-11
  • The Morning Line: House GOP Heads to White House After Blocking Debt Limit Hike: If the purpose of the vote was to send a message, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and his members will get to assess Wednesday if that message was received. The bill to increase the debt limit without any spending cuts failed, 318 to 97, without a single Republican vote.
    House Republicans will take that tally sheet to the White House Wednesday morning as the conference prepares to meet with President Obama to discuss the path forward on deficit reduction and, ultimately, raising the debt limit before the Aug. 2 deadline.
    Rep. Boehner also plans to show up at the White House with a new letter signed by 150 economists backing his proposal to make spending cuts in an amount greater than the amount requested in the debt limit increase.
    The 10 a.m. EDT meeting is closed to the press to allow for a more candid exchange of ideas according to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. This will be the first time the president has met with the full House GOP conference since it became the majority party in that chamber in January.
    Following Tuesday night’s session, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said, “[This] vote illustrates that there is no support in the people’s House for a debt limit increase without real spending cuts and binding budget process reforms.”
    Just prior to the vote, House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson, D-Conn., described the House activity thusly: “Look, you know, it’s politics. We get it. It’s a sham.”
    Jackie Calmes of the New York Times has the vote breakdown by party.
    “Voting against the measure were 236 Republicans and 82 Democrats. No Republicans voted in favor.
    “The showdown over the issue is likely to continue well into the summer, with consequences for both parties and, potentially, for the economy and Wall Street, where the bond market in particular is watching the partisan standoff closely. Yet for all the talk of crisis should Congress fail to raise the debt ceiling by Aug. 2, when the Treasury Department says it will run out of room to meet all the government’s obligations without further borrowing, the financial markets are likely to yawn at Tuesday’s proceedings.”… – PBS Newshour, 6-1-11
  • House Republican lawmakers to meet Obama on debt: Republicans invited to a White House meeting with President Barack Obama on the troubling U.S. debt are trying to build up pressure for trillions in spending cuts in exchange for any increase in the government’s ability to borrow.
    The leader of the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner, released a statement Wednesday, signed by more than 150 economists, which backs his call for spending cuts that would exceed any increase in the debt limit.
    Reducing government spending and cutting the spiraling U.S. debt are expected to be major issues heading into the 2012 election season.
    “Increasing the debt ceiling without significant spending cuts and budget reforms will send a message to American job creators that we still are not serious about ending Washington’s spending addiction,” Boehner said in the statement.
    Boehner and dozens of House Republicans began arriving in buses at the White House to meet with Obama. The session comes on the heels of a symbolic and lopsided vote the day before against a Republican proposal to raise the cap on the debt limit by $2.4 trillion. The proposal, intended to prove that a bill to increase the borrowing cap with no spending cuts is dead on arrival, failed badly Tuesday on a 318-97 vote…. – AP, 6-1-11
  • House G.O.P. and Obama Have ‘Frank Conversation’ on Debt: At President Obama’s invitation, House Republicans met with him on Wednesday and had a “very frank” airing of their views on reducing the federal debt, saying that the president must agree to deep spending cuts without tax increases, and drop his ideas for increasing spending to stimulate the economy. House Republicans spoke to reporters after their meeting with President Obama at the White House on Wednesday.Stephen Crowley/The New York TimesHouse Republicans spoke to reporters after their meeting with President Obama at the White House on Wednesday.
    “We had a very frank conversation,” House Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, said as lawmakers left the White House meeting. “I thought it was productive. I’m looking forward to more serious conversations about how we reduce the deficit and the debt to get our economy going again and creating jobs.”
    Though Friday’s monthly jobs report is expected to show continued high unemployment, the second-ranking House Republican, Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, said Republicans told Mr. Obama that they oppose any proposals to spend more money to jump-start the economy.
    “The discussion really focused on the philosophical difference on whether Washington should continue to pump money into the economy or should we provide an incentive for entrepreneurs and small businesses to grow,” Mr. Cantor said. “The president talked about a need for us to continue to quote-unquote invest from Washington’s standpoint, and for a lot of us that’s code for more Washington spending, something that we can’t afford right now.”… – NYT, 6-1-11
  • Interviews Q&A: Mitch McConnell Explains How to Get a ‘Really Big Deal’ on the Debt Ceiling: One day after Congress rejected a $2.4 trillion increase of the federal borrowing limit without preconditional spending cuts, House Republicans are visiting the White House on Wednesday to negotiate directly with President Obama on the deficit reduction measures that will likely accompany the next debt ceiling vote. The top leaders of both parties, including the President, have been largely absent from the deficit talks currently being conducted by Vice President Joe Biden, but as the August deadline draws closer, their direct input may be the only thing that can advance negotiations. On Thursday, May 19, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sat down with TIME to discuss a wide variety of subjects. Below are lightly edited excerpts of his remarks on the debt ceiling and deficit reduction negotiations…. – Time, 6-1-11
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