House set vote to suspend the debt limit


Instead of raising the debt ceiling, the House would suspend enforcement of the federal debt limit through May 18, lifting the threat of a government default under a bill set for consideration Jan. 23.

The bill (H.R. 325) would allow the Treasury Department to issue debt for any items that come due before May 18, so it could borrow to cover the cost of items like interest payments, military payroll and beneficiary checks.

"This bill does not allow Treasury to run up an unlimited amount of debt between now and May 18," said Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) as the debate on the House floor began shortly after 11 a.m. 

On May 19, the debt limit would automatically be raised to a higher level to reflect the additional borrowing, but not higher. Treasury could then again take the so-called "extraordinary measures" to continue paying the nation's bills--based on the extension by previous measures this would push the default deadline to the end of July or beginning of August.

During the floor debate, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said that this bill amounts to simply "setting up another fiscal cliff."

The bill also says the House and Senate would have to adopt a budget by April 15, and if a chamber has not adopted the budget it will hold members' paychecks in escrow until the congressional session ends in early 2015. The lack of a Senate budget is a consistent talking point for Republicans.

At a Jan. 22 press conference, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that the President Obama would sign the temporary suspension of the debt ceiling, that if "it reaches the president's desk, he would not stand in the way of the bill becoming law."

For more:
- go to the THOMAS page for H.R. 325

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