WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to suspend the U.S. debt limit until March 2015, giving a win to President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress who insisted that the ceiling be lifted without conditions.
The measure passed 221-201.
The plan goes to the Democratic-led Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid said the chamber will act as soon as possible. Obama and Senate Democrats had refused to negotiate on raising the debt limit, and U.S. companies sought assurance that the government wouldn’t exhaust its borrowing authority.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said the issue comes down to whether the U.S. will make good on its obligations to debt-holders and provide stability by boosting the limit.
“Will America pay its bills?” Hoyer said on the House floor before the vote. “Will it give confidence to the business community? Will it give confidence to its own citizens? Will it indeed give confidence to the world?”
Republicans have been divided over spending issues. Fewer than half of House Republicans voted last year for measures that averted spending cuts and tax increases, assisted victims of domestic and sexual violence and provided aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy. Republicans needed Democratic votes to pass a budget deal in December and a farm bill last month.
Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, said he will insist on requiring at least 60 votes to advance the debt-limit measure instead of a simple majority of the 100 senators.