Debt Limit Show Vote

The House will vote today on a measure that will raise the nation’s limit on debt to $16.7 trillion. But don’t expect it to to pass.

Today’s vote is really just for show – as Republicans want to demonstrate that they are not going to raise the debt limit without some significant spending cuts – and so far, there has been no real progress on such a deal.

The bill on the schedule today in the House is a pretty simple one:

“A BILL To implement the President’s request to increase the statutory limit on the public debt.

“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. FINDING.

“The Congress finds that the President’s budget proposal, Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal 6 Year 2012, necessitates an increase in the statutory debt limit of $2,406,000,000,000.

“SEC. 2. INCREASE IN STATUTORY LIMIT ON THE PUBLIC DEBT.

“Subsection (b) of section 3101 of title 31, United States Code, is amended by striking out the dollar limitation contained in such subsection and inserting in lieu thereof $16,700,000,000,000.”

The translation of that – this bill would increase the national debt by $2.4 trillion to $16.7 trillion.  Again – it’s not going to go anywhere, because most – if not all – Republicans will vote against it.  And they may be joined by a number of Democrats.

Over the weekend, Republicans moved up consideration of the debt limit bill to today, and also put it on the special “suspension” calendar, which means the bill would need a two-thirds supermajority in order to be approved, instead of a simple majority of House members.

GOP leaders have been consistent in what they say they will accept on the debt limit, as they want cuts in spending as part of any bill to allow for more borrowing.

“That means no debt limit increase without meaningful budget reforms and serious spending cuts in excess of any increase in the debt limit,” says Speaker John Boehner.

Negotiations on that continue with Vice President Biden leading high level talks.

The basic deadline for action is in early August, which means that more public maneuvering is fully expected in the weeks ahead – especially in late July.

But as I point out in my other blog today, the House and Senate are in session at the same time only five of the next ten weeks.  That could make it even more difficult to find common ground on the budget and debt limit issues.