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House returns to session, hopes to stave off default with debt-limit vote

Capitol Building
Posted at 2:51 AM, Oct 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-12 07:12:34-04

Members of the House are scrambling to Washington to pass a short-term lift of the nation's debt limit.

The vote Tuesday will ensure the federal government can continue fully paying its bills into December.

House Democrats are expected to have enough votes on their own to ensure that President Joe Biden can sign the bill into law this week.

The scramble to raise the debt ceiling comes after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell threatened to filibuster the move just weeks before an Oct. 18 deadline — an unprecedented step that would have had immense fallout on global financial markets. Routine government payments to Social Security beneficiaries, disabled veterans and others would have been called into question.

"At that point, we expect Treasury would be left with very limited resources that would be depleted quickly. It is uncertain whether we could continue to meet all the nation's commitments after that date," Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month.

Senate leaders were able to come to a deal on a short-term solution last week, and on Thursday, the Senate voted 50 to 48 to raise the debt ceiling.

However, the relief provided by the current plan's passage will only be temporary, forcing Congress to revisit the issue in just a few months.