House passes symbolic measure against $1.2 trillion increase in US debt limit
The GOP-controlled House on Wednesday kicked off another session with a protest vote against raising the government’s borrowing cap by $1.2 trillion, but the maneuver amounted to political theater under a process stacked on purpose in President Barack Obama’s favor.
The nearly party-line 239-176 vote puts the House on record against Obama’s use of unprecedented authority — awarded to him through a mechanism devised by the Senate’s top Republican — to unilaterally raise the so-called debt limit unless Congress can muster the votes to block him.
The Senate is sure to kill the measure next week, and Obama’s veto power serves as a final guarantee that the increase will go through as intended and that the nation won’t face another debt crisis like last summer.
The political dance choreographed under last summer’s Budget Control Act was designed to permit lawmakers, mostly Republicans, to vote against debt increases but not actually block them — and provoke a first-ever, market-rattling default on U.S. government obligations.
The debate offered tea party-backed GOP freshmen an almost three-hour opportunity before C-Span cameras to cast blame on the White House and Democratically controlled Senate for the nation’s fiscal ills. The national debt has skyrocketed during Obama’s first term — from $10.6 trillion on Inauguration Day to $15.2 trillion today. Much of the blame lies with the deep recession Obama inherited, which made revenues plummet, but almost $1 trillion of the increase can be attributed to Obama’s 2009 deficit-financed economic stimulus bill.
“Instead of giving the President more power to spend money we do not have, Congress should work together to find ways to cut spending and put America back on a path to fiscal responsibility,” said Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C.