91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The House passes a short-term fix to the looming debt ceiling crisis

A view of the U.S. Capitol at dawn Oct. 6.
Drew Angerer
Getty Images
A view of the U.S. Capitol at dawn Oct. 6.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday voted 219-206 to approve a short-term increase in the federal debt ceiling, heading off fiscal calamity and putting an end — for now — to tense negotiations between the two major parties.

The House vote comes after the Senate last week passed the measure, which will keep the nation from defaulting on its debt obligations.

The bill increases the borrowing limit by $480 billion — an amount the Treasury Department estimates should keep debt payments flowing until Dec. 3.

Had Congress been unable to reach an agreement, the fallout would have been "catastrophic," according to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, with child tax credits, Social Security benefits and military paychecks all hanging in the balance.

The December deadline was a compromise between Republicans and Democrats, but the path for a longer-term solution remains unclear.

Republicans insist that Democrats use the Senate reconciliation process to raise the debt ceiling on a party-line basis, but Democrats have balked at the idea, noting how Republicans were willing to raise the borrowing limit three times under former President Donald Trump.

Dec. 3 is also when the government's funding is set to run out.

The debt fight comes as Democrats are also pushing to invest trillions of dollars in a number of social and climate programs. That battle has its own set of problems, as the progressive wing of the party wants more ambitious spending while party centrists are seeking a slimmer package to push through Congress.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.