The House passed a short-term extension of the debt ceiling without a single Republican vote, including those of Utah’s four GOP congressmen.
The Democratic-controlled House approved a resolution Tuesday night to temporarily raise the government’s borrowing limit to $28.9 trillion, averting a fiscal crisis for now but setting up a second showdown in the coming weeks.
The Senate passed the legislation last week. Utah GOP Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney voted against it.
The bill increases the borrowing limit by $480 billion — an amount the Treasury Department estimates should keep debt payments flowing until Dec. 3. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the measure before Oct. 18, when the Treasury Department has estimated it would no longer be able to meet the nation’s financial obligations without congressional action.
“Yesterday, Democrats raised the debt ceiling with one goal in mind: Make room for the biggest tax increase since 1968 and the biggest domestic spending bill ever. We can’t expect to reduce our ever-ballooning national debt if we don’t start prioritizing fiscal responsibility over partisan politics,” Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said in a statement Wednesday.
Stewart is referring to the Democrats’ plan to invest $3.5 trillion in so-called “human infrastructure,” including expanding social programs and tackling climate change. Republicans contend the price tag is more like $5.5 trillion and increase taxes for middle-income Americans.
Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, said he could not vote for a debt limit increase without substantive debate over spending reductions and reforms.
“As our national debt rapidly approaches $30 trillion, we must come to terms with the stark realities — and inevitable consequences — of our addiction to spending taxpayer money without consideration of our debt-to-GDP trajectory,” he said in a statement.
Instead of discussing future spending and assessing an economy that is bouncing back from the pandemic, Democrats are “doubling down” on a $3.5 trillion tax-and-spend package that will jeopardize the stability of Social Security and Medicare, impose taxes and inflation on the working class, and abandon any fiscal restraints, he said.
Moore said he plans to create a task force this month in Ogden led by community leaders to identify pro-growth policies, address wasteful spending, and advocate for ways to put the debt-to-GDP ratio on a downward trajectory.
Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, has said voting to increase the debt limit is a place he can’t go.
“Throughout my time in Congress I have been insistent about fiscal responsibility on the federal level,” Curtis said. “Raising the debt ceiling without any notion of reigning in our spending is not the Utah way, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to manage our governments financial responsibilities.”
Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, said he voted no on “this procedural gimmick,” just as Biden did in 2003, 2004 and 2006 when he was in the Senate.
“The House, the Senate, and the White House are controlled by the same party — if they want to act alone to fast-track this spending crisis instead of restoring fiscal responsibility, they can lift the debt ceiling on their own,” Owens said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Tuesday there would be devastating economic consequences if the borrowing limit were to be breached, according to NBC News.
The speaker touted legislation by Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Pa., and Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., that would eliminate the debt ceiling as it currently exists by transferring the authority to raise it to the Treasury secretary rather than requiring a vote of Congress.