House OKs debt dodge
STAFF AND, WIRE REPORTS
WASHINGTON -- A measure to suspend the nation's legal limit on borrowing for nearly four months cleared a key vote in the House Wednesday, as Republicans broadly endorsed a new tactic that would temporarily remove the threat of a potentially calamitous government default from their ongoing fight with Democrats over government spending.
The measure, which would set aside the legal debt ceiling and allow the government to borrow as needed to meet spending obligations through May 18, was adopted on a 285 to 144 vote.
The two local congressman voted in favor of the legislation, which did not include dollar-for-dollar spending cuts Republicans once insisted would have to be part of any debt limit bill.
The bill, however, does include a provision that withholds lawmaker salaries if one of the chambers of Congress fails to pass a budget by April 15.
Republican Reps. Joe Pitts, whose district covers most of Lancaster County, and Pat Meehan, who represents Bart, Colerain, Leacock, Paradise, Sadsbury and Salisbury townships and Christiana Borough, signed off on the bill.
"Today's legislation is an honest attempt to have Congress deal with this problem sooner rather than later," Pitts said in an emailed statement. "If we can't do something as basic as passing a budget, we don't deserve to be rewarded with a paycheck."
Just before the vote, Democratic leaders in the Senate said they would accept the House measure without changes and a Senate vote is expected as soon as next week.
And the White House, too, has said President Barack Obama will not stand in the way of the bill.
As a result, House passage apparently eliminates the possibility of an economy-rattling crisis next month, when the Treasury Department has said it will exhaust extraordinary measures put in place to extend its ability to borrow since the government hit its $16.4 trillion limit on Dec. 31.