Obama: Debt Limit Bill Removes Threat Of Default

By: CBS News; Associated Press News Email
By: CBS News; Associated Press News Email

News Release: Associated Press News

Updated: February 12, 2014, 7:30pm

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is praising a vote in Congress to lift the debt ceiling and says it removes the threat of default, in his words, "once and for all."

The must-pass legislation cleared the Senate on Wednesday and had already passed the House. That means the bill is ready for Obama to sign.

Obama says he's pleased Democrats and Republicans came together to pay for spending they've already incurred. He says America's credit must not be used as leverage or an extortion tool.

In a statement, Obama says he hopes the vote puts an end to brinkmanship in politics so the nation can focus on creating jobs and strengthening the economy. He says lawmakers should be focused on those priorities rather than wasting time creating new crises.

News Release: Congressman Sanford Bishop's Office

Updated: February 11, 2014, 6pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) issued the following statement regarding his vote to avoid government default by extending the borrowing limit of the United States and relieving the threat of default on our nation’s debt until March 15, 2015. The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 221 to 201 and goes on to the Senate for debate.

“Similar to a homeowner paying the mortgage, a tenant paying the rent, or a business paying the bills, it is important for our nation to pay its bills too! Without the extended borrowing authority, the United States would not be able to continue Social Security payments, Medicare reimbursements, military pay, and other benefits to the American people. Additionally, it is critical that the world continues to place credibility in the U.S. dollar as a standard upon which to rely. The passage of this legislation will allow our government the time and opportunity to work on a balanced way to reduce the deficit and pay down our national debt.”

News Release: CBS News

The House voted Tuesday to lift the debt ceiling and avert the threat of a U.S. default until March 15, 2015 with a bill that broke a trend for the GOP by seeking no spending cuts or additional policy items.

Twenty-eight Republicans joined 193 Democrats in voting “yes” for the bill, which was only stripped of extra measures after House Republican leaders abandoned a handful of different requests they might use to bargain when it became clear their conference wasn’t interested. The bill now heads to the Senate.

Instead, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, relied on mostly Democratic votes in an attempt to force President Obama and his party to shoulder the blame for the debt.

"Our members are also very upset with the president. He won’t negotiate, he won't deal with our long-term spending problems without us raising taxes, he won’t even sit down and discuss these issues," Boehner told reporters Tuesday morning. "He’s the one driving up the debt, and the question they’re asking is why should I deal with his debt limit? So the fact is we’ll let the Democrats put the votes up, and we’ll put a minimum number of votes up to get it passed."

The move represents a major concession by GOP leaders, since both Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had indicated a debt limit bill would not have enough support to pass. But at the end of the day, not enough House Republicans seemed willing to dive headfirst into another crisis that could end in the kind of backlash that occurred after the shutdown of the federal government last October. Still, outside conservative groups were urging lawmakers to vote “no.”

The Senate could prove to be a different story. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, plans to push for a 60-vote threshold on the debt ceiling, which would force at least five Republicans to join Democrats and independents in voting to lift the debt ceiling.

"Under no circumstances will I agree to the Senate's raising the debt ceiling with just 50 votes. I intend to object and force a 60 vote threshold," Cruz said. "I think Republicans should stand together and do the right thing. We should have every Republican stand together and follow the responsible course of action, which is to insist on meaningful spending reforms before raising the debt ceiling."

The U.S. officially ran out of borrowing authority on Friday, but Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is able to use so-called “extraordinary measures” to continue meeting obligations until Feb. 27. Still, there was a sense of urgency on the issue since the House leaves town Wednesday afternoon and won’t return until Feb. 25, just two days before the drop-dead date.

The Republicans had floated a variety of policy concessions they would accept in exchange for the debt limit increase, including an approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline or a repeal of the “risk corridors” in the Affordable Care Act, a provision that which enables the government to share in the risks and gains of the marketplace. Most recently, the House leadership proposed attaching a measure that would undo cuts to the cost-of-living formula for military retirees that were part of the budget deal negotiated last year. The measure, which saved $6 billion, was unpopular among many lawmakers who were uncomfortable with reducing veterans’ benefits. But the strategy did not attract sufficient support.

The House separately took up a bill to undo the military pension cuts, which passed with a large bipartisan majority. Ninety-four senators approved a test vote Monday that would do the same thing.

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