POLITICS -- August 1, 2011 at 3:36 PM EDT
House Votes to Raise Debt Limit, Bill Headed to Senate
Updated 7:49 p.m. ET | The House of Representatives passed a measure Monday evening to increase the U.S. debt ceiling by a vote of 269-161. The bill now heads to the Senate, which will likely vote on it Tuesday, which is the same day that the Treasury Department has said it will not be able to borrow more funds to pay all of the country's bills.
The Senate will vote on the bill at noon Tuesday, Majority Leader Harry Reid said. The measure needs 60 votes to pass, at which point it would head to President Barack Obama to sign into law.
Rep. Gabby Giffords, who has been recovering since she was shot in a deadly attack in January, returned to the House floor where she received a standing ovation from her colleagues:
Gabrielle has returned to Washington to support a bipartisan bill to prevent economic crisis. Turn on C-SPAN now: http://t.co/ddhmVMB
Watch Giffords' return here.
Updated 5:12 p.m. ET | House Republican leaders touted their debt-limit deal as a major change in policy that represents how the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives has shifted the debate in Washington toward how to cut spending and the federal debt.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor laid out at a news conference Monday afternoon how the deal would increase the debt limit without raising taxes -- an issue Republicans won in negotiations with President Obama.
"From day one this administration has been insisting that we raise taxes in order to solve this problem. I think the big win here for us and for the American people is the fact that there are no tax hikes in this package. With so many people out of work, with the middle class hoping for more jobs, the last thing we need right now are tax hikes," Cantor said.
House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., a leading voice in his party on fiscal issues, said the deal represented a big cultural change on Capitol Hill. Ryan predicted the bill would pass with a majority of Republicans voting for it.
"We've been trying to get discretionary spending caps in law since I've been here, for 13 years. "We couldn't even get caps on discretionary spending the last time the Republicans were in the majority. We got that", Ryan said. "We see this as a good step in the right direction. It's a decent down payment on the deficit and huge change in the culture of spending. We are cutting spending," Ryan added.
The question though is how many Republicans will vote for the bill in the House, and will enough Democrats also support the bill in order to allow more liberal Democrats and more conservative Republicans to reject it.
House Speaker John Boehner said it was the responsibility of all the party leaders to bring enough votes to pass the debt limit compromise. He would not say whether he had enough votes to pass the bill.
"I would remind all of you that this is not just an agreement between the president and myself. This is an agreement between the bipartisan leaders of the Congress and the president of the United States. And all the leaders have a responsibility because they've all signed off on the agreement to bring sufficient votes to make sure that it passes," Boehner said.
A House vote will likely occur Monday evening.
Original post 3:36 p.m. ET | Vice President Joe Biden met with separately with House and Senate Democrats to try to sell them on the debt limit deal agreed to by President Obama and other congressional leaders Sunday night.
After a two and a half hour meeting with his House counterparts, it was clear Biden was facing an unhappy audience
"(The Republicans) didn't want anything extraneous in this package. Extraneous. Jobs are extraneous? Safety and security is extraneous?" Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said as he left the Biden meeting. "What's the package about? It's all about cutting, cutting, cutting. Tax cuts and reductions in spending are not going to create jobs in this country. We need some investment, there isn't a a penny of investment," he said.
Biden calmly told reporters as he left the meeting that he was there to explain the deal to the House members.
"I didn't go to convince, I went to explain. And lay out exactly how we got to where we were and why it was so important for the country," Biden said. House Democrats expressed their frustrations with the package to Biden, but he said he felt confident it would pass.
Several House Democrats said they were voting no on the package or leaning toward no, but it is impossible to tell just yet how many Democrats will join Republicans in passing the bill in the House. While the mood before a similar meeting with House Republicans Monday morning was considerably more positive, several House conservatives are likely to vote against the bill because they do not think it cuts enough spending.
House Speaker John Boehner was expected to address the media Monday afternoon. The House has scheduled a Monday evening vote on the package and the Senate will vote afterward.
Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images.