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US House agrees to short-term debt limit increase

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. House of Representatives agreed Tuesday to a short-term increase of the debt limit that gives lawmakers until early December to approve a longer deal.

House members voted 219-206 along party lines on a legislative rule effectively agreeing to the Senate bill that the chamber passed last week. West Virginia Reps. David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Carol Miller joined Republican colleagues in opposing passage.

Federal officials and analysts have warned Congress of the possible outcomes if lawmakers fail to act on the debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the department could run out of money by Oct. 18 without the debt ceiling being raised or suspended. A default could trigger a global economic recession and cause delays in providing payments to Social Security recipients, veterans and military members.

The legislation would increase the Treasury Department’s borrowing limit by $480 million, which would be enough funding to get to Dec. 3.

The vote also came amid ongoing discussions about Democrats’ $3.5 trillion proposal on social programs. Republicans oppose the plan because of its estimated cost and scope. Moderate Democrats have additionally voiced concerns; Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has suggested cutting the measure to $1.5 trillion.

“Democrats want to spend trillions of dollars the country can’t afford and expect Republicans to bail them out. I voted against raising the debt limit because our national debt is already too high,” Mooney said in a statement.

“President Joe Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi will spend the next few months trying to figure out how many trillions of dollars in new government spending they can force Democrats in Congress to capitulate to. They will continue to twist arms in the House and Senate before hitting the credit card limit again in December.”

Senators ended last week by attacking each other over the debt limit. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., criticized Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Republicans for not supporting an increase after 11 Republicans — including West Virginia’s Shelley Moore Capito — joined Democrats to advance the bill to a final vote.

No Republican senators voted to increase the debt ceiling.

“Senate Democrats want a long-term solution to the debt limit to make sure financial markets remain stable and our economic recovery stays on track. America’s full faith and credit must never be used as a political bargaining chip,” Schumer said Thursday. “I hope my Republican colleagues relent from trying to make it one when we revisit this issue soon.”

McConnell, in a letter to the president, said Republicans will not help Democrats again. He instead suggested Democrats utilize the reconciliation process, in which 51 votes are necessary to advance a bill rather than the typical 60.

“Your lieutenants on Capitol Hill now have the time they claimed they lacked to address the debt ceiling through standalone reconciliation, and all the tools to do it. They cannot invent another crisis and ask for my help,” McConnell wrote Friday.

The House previously approved legislation extending the debt limit to Dec. 16, 2022. Republicans in both legislative chambers opposed the measure.

Miller was one of multiple legislators who voted Tuesday by proxy; the House approved rules at the start of the coronavirus pandemic to allow such voting. Communications director Tatum Wallace told MetroNews that Miller voted remotely because of concerns regarding flight cancellations nationwide.

“After experiencing travel disruptions last week, Congresswoman Miller wasn’t going to take a chance on missing the vote and proxied per the rules,” Wallace said. “She does not have COVID-19 and has not been in contact with anyone who has tested positive.”

House records show Miller has submitted three letters notifying the House clerk about voting by proxy during the policy period.

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