House approves increase in debt ceiling with no strings attached, bill heads to Senate

2/11/14
 
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from FoxNews,
2/11/14:

The House voted Tuesday to raise the government’s borrowing limit, as GOP leaders backed down from a potential confrontation with Democrats by declining to seek any concessions in exchange for the increase.

The debt-ceiling bill passed on a 221-201 vote, and now goes to the Senate for final approval.

The vote comes after Republican leaders backed off their strategy of trying to use the debt limit to force spending cuts or other concessions. In 2011, President Obama yielded to similar demands but has since said he would not negotiate with Republicans over the matter.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, swiftly teed up the vote Tuesday after failing to get enough conservative support for a plan that would have tied the debt ceiling measure to one reversing cuts to military pensions. Another failed proposal had tied the debt cap hike to the Keystone pipeline.

The House, as part of a separate bill, nevertheless voted Tuesday to restore full cost of living increases to pension benefits for younger military retirees. The final vote was 326-90.

But Boehner’s decision to move ahead on the debt-ceiling legislation without any concessions signals a potentially new approach on these so-called must-pass bills. His party was bruised last year after Republicans tried to extract changes to ObamaCare as part of a budget bill, resulting in a partial government shutdown that lasted until Boehner finally called a relatively clean budget bill to the floor — which passed on mostly Democratic votes.

The vote Tuesday followed the same pattern.

But the vote caused consternation among conservative groups that have pushed Congress — and particularly Tea Party-aligned lawmakers they helped elect — to rein in deficit spending, in part by extracting spending cuts wherever possible.

“A clean debt ceiling is a complete capitulation on the Speaker’s part and demonstrates that he has lost the ability to lead the House of Representatives, let alone his own party,” Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, said in a statement.

The measure approved by the House does not raise the debt limit by a set amount but does suspend it through March 15, 2015. That buys the Treasury Department the leeway it needs to borrow money to pay for Social Security checks, payments on government debt and paychecks for federal workers.

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