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House passes filibuster exclusion for Democrats to unilaterally raise debt ceiling


House Democrats on Tuesday passed a bill creating a one-time filibuster exception to raise the country’s borrowing limit before next week’s deadline.

In a narrow 222-212 vote, lawmakers passed the measure along almost party lines, with every House Democrat and one Republican, Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, voting in favor. The provision was included in a larger bill avoiding the automatic cuts to Medicare that are expected to be phased in from January.

“Let us remember that limiting debt is not about future spending,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California. “It’s about meeting the obligations the government has already undertaken, largely under the Trump administration.”

The bill is now heading to the Senate on an equal footing, where it will require the support of at least 10 Republicans to overcome the chamber’s long-standing filibuster rules.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, plans to put the bill to a vote before the end of the week. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell supports the measure and is expected to provide the necessary votes for its passage.

“I think it’s in the best interest of the country to avoid a default,” said Mr. McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky. “I think it’s in the best interests of Republicans as well.”

Typically, increasing the debt limit requires at least 60 votes to overcome long-standing chamber obstruction rules.

GOP lawmakers say the one-time exclusion is a victory because it prompts Democrats to raise the debt ceiling, a cap on how much the government can borrow to pay for federal spending, on their own.

“I think the clear question is… that the majority party has to provide the votes to raise the debt limit,” said Senate Minority Whip John Thune, Republican of South Dakota. “Democrats know it and they are ready to do it.”

Senate Republicans further argue that the deal requires Democrats to stipulate a dollar amount by which they wish to raise the debt ceiling. They say transparency will show the American people the true cost of President Biden’s program.

“They want to own this massive increase in debt that is going to accommodate all the new spending they want to make,” Thune said. “We think that’s a perfectly appropriate way to handle it.”

Democratic lawmakers are hoping to push through a debt ceiling hike by December 15, when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned the country would risk defaulting on its debts.