House votes to suspend debt ceiling, bill heads to Senate

The House on Wednesday voted to suspend the debt ceiling through Dec. 16, 2022 weeks before the U.S. is expected to reach its borrowing limit. 

Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., and Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, joined Republican lawmakers in voting against the legislation.

Meanwhile, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., was the only GOP lawmaker to vote in favor of the bill. 

The bill now heads to the Senate where it will need 60 votes to advance in the chamber. 

Republicans have previously stated that they do not intend to vote to raise the debt ceiling, all but dooming the possibility of it passing on in Senate. 

Currently, Democrats are trying to pass more than $4 trillion in infrastructure and social programs at the center of President Joe Biden’s agenda — and at the same time avert a government shutdown and prevent a federal default that could send financial markets crashing.

The House last week passed a measure that would both keep government open and suspend the debt limit by a party-line vote of 220-211. The Senate blocked that bill 50-48 on Monday evening after Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell said his members wouldn't help raise the debt limit.

One possible path to avoiding a shutdown: Democrats could separate government funding from the debt limit. McConnell says Republicans would support that.

The U.S. is not at risk of defaulting on its accumulated debt load of roughly $28 trillion until mid-October. But it is unclear, for now, how Democrats will get around Republican opposition.

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On Monday Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also warned that if the debt limit isn’t raised by Oct. 18, "the full faith and credit of the United States would be impaired, and our country would likely face a financial crisis and economic recession." Yellen testified before the Senate Banking Committee to update Congress on the impact of the vast financial support programs the government enacted during the pandemic.

The debt limit caps the amount of money the government can borrow. Still, Congress is able to approve new borrowing that exceeds the debt limit with a vote on raising or suspending the debt limit held separately. In that way, the debt limit is raised to accommodate previous spending and taxing decisions. The limit has been raised or suspended nearly 80 times since 1960. It was suspended three times during the Trump administration.

The U.S. has never defaulted on its debts in the modern era, and historically both parties have voted to raise the limit. Democrats joined the then-Republican Senate majority in doing so several times during Donald Trump’s presidency, including a suspension of the debt limit that expired in August.

This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed.