Once again the clock is ticking on the debt ceiling and Congress is set to vote this evening on a no-policy-attached clean bill.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent a letter to lawmakers last Friday saying that he has begun to implement extraordinary measures to continue paying the country’s bills -- but if Congress doesn’t raise the debt limit by Feb. 27 the U.S. will begin to default on its debts.
Meanwhile lawmakers are struggling to come to an agreement before they head into a recess next week (returning Feb. 25, two days before the debt ceiling must be lifted).
Just this week it looked as though House Republicans may have come to an agreement about lifting the ceiling so long as military pension cuts were restored. Politico reports Tuesday morning that the plan was abandoned due to lack of support from rank-in-file members.
“Mother Theresa is a saint now but if the Congress wanted to make her a saint and attach that to the debt ceiling we probably couldn’t get 218 Republican votes,” joked House Sepaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) at a press conference this week when asked why Republican rank-in-file members were having such a difficult time agreeing to a plan.
Now it appears that Republicans will have to agree to a “clean lift” of the debt ceiling (with no extra policy attached). Democrats will be required to bear the brunt of the bill, and even if every Democrat votes in favor of lifting the debt ceiling they will still need 18 Republican votes, something senior party members have said might not happen. A House vote will happen Tuesday and not Wednesday because of expected inclement weather, reports the Huffington Post.
Related: Here’s How to Bypass the Debt Limit
Last year’s debt ceiling debate created uncertainty on fiscal policy amongst businesses and investors. The 2011 debt ceiling fight led to a downgrade of U.S. credit from AAA to AA+ by ratings agency Standard & Poor’s. Many have argued that the U.S. president should be given unilateral power over the debt ceiling to avoid congressional bickering.
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