House Republicans on Tuesday set themselves up for failure, on purpose, to send a message to the Obama administration that they will not increase the nation’s debt ceiling without spending cuts.
The Republican bill to raise the debt limit $2.4 trillion above the current level of $14.3 trillion failed by a vote of 318 to 97, with all Republicans voting against it, including the measure’s Republican author, Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan. The measure required two thirds majority to pass.
“A vote based on legislation I’ve introduced will and must fail,” Camp said. “Most members aren’t happy when they bring a bill up [that fails], but I consider defeating an unconditional increase to be a success.”
“A no vote today is a vote to put us on the path to what the market and the American people are demanding,” Camp said.
Added Rep. Steve Scalise (R.-La.), “No more blank checks. No more unbridled spending.”
“The wild spending spree the President has been on for the last couple of years has come to an end,” Scalise said.
Democrats called the vote a “political charade,” however 82 voted with them to defeat the debt increase.
Democrats also said it’s not President Obama’s fault the nation is trillions of dollars in debt, it’s the fault of former President George W. Bush.
“Democrats know how to clean up the debt, they have had to do it before,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
“Where was everybody when President Bush gave tax breaks to the wealthy, which did not create jobs?” Pelosi asked. “More jobs were created in the private sector in two years of Obama than in eight years of Bush.”
Camp disputed her numbers and said that the debt under Obama already exceeds Bush’s wartime debt. “The debt under this President is going up at twice the rate it did under Bush,” Camp said. “It is important that we send a clear signal there will not be an unconditional debt increase.”
Congress has until Aug. 2 to act before hitting the default deadline. On Wednesday, the entire Republican caucus will meet with Obama to discuss the debt ceiling. Democrats are expected to meet with Obama on Thursday.
Rep. Sander Levin (D.-Mich.) said Congress needs to find a “serious solution, not a ploy that risks another global financial crisis.”
Rep. Xavier Becerra (D.-Calif.) said Republicans are “playing Russian roulette with a recovering economy.”
But Rep. Kevin Brady (R.-Tex.) said, “The Republicans in Congress are sending a statement today that America will get its house in order.”
“We are not going to guarantee the President an unconditional increase in how much the President can borrow,” Brady said.
“In effect,” he declared, “we are cutting up the credit cards.”