As the nation nears the June 5 debt ceiling deadline outlined by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives took to the floor Wednesday night to vote on an agreement to suspend the nation’s debt limit and rein in government spending.
The agreement, which was hashed out by President Joe Biden and congressional leaders, suspends the federal debt limit through January 2025 and sets new discretionary spending limits that will be enforced via automatic spending cuts.
The measure would also end the Biden administration’s pause on federal student loan payments and expand work requirements for government assistance programs, including food stamps. The agreement also speeds up the permitting process for energy-related projects.
It still needs approval from Senate lawmakers, but Wednesday’s House vote was the first step in getting the agreement to Biden’s desk and staving off a default on the federal government’s debt.
The bill was passed in bipartisan fashion a little before 9:30 p.m. with a 314-117 vote.
Most of Pennsylvania’s congressional representatives voted for the debt agreement, but two lawmakers from opposing parties voted against it.
- Brendan Boyle (D)
- Matt Cartwright (D)
- Madeleine Dean (D)
- Chris Deluzio (D)
- Dwight Evans (D)
- Brian Fitzpatrick (R)
- Chrissy Houlahan (D)
- John Joyce (R)
- Mike Kelly (R)
- Dan Meuser (R)
- Guy Reschenthaler (R)
- Mary Gay Scanlon (D)
- Lloyd Smucker (R)
- Glenn “GT” Thompson (R)
- Susan Wild (D)
- Summer Lee (D)
- Scott Perry (R)
Many Democrats stressed that they voted for the legislation to avoid defaulting on the federal debt, which they said would have proved calamitous for the nation’s economy.
“Ultimately my vote is for preventing a 2008-like economic crash and recession – and protecting the vast majority of the progress we made in the first two years of the Biden-Harris administration,”
Evans, a Philadelphia Democrat, said in a statement. Evans, who represents the state’s 3rd Congressional District, said he opposed certain parts of the deal, including the new requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Deluzio, a Democrat who represents the 17th Congressional District in western Pennsylvania, called the deal “far from perfect,” but said in a statement that he refused to “risk tanking America’s economy in the race against time to avoid a default.”
Democrat Matt Cartwright of the 8th Congressional District also expressed some concerns with the legislation and blamed House Speaker Kevin McCarthy for the country nearing a default.
“I’ll vote yes on the debt ceiling deal. There are some items in the bill I dislike. But these are short-term issues,” he said ahead of the vote. “The alternative, allowing Kevin McCarthy to default on the American national debt for the first time since the War of 1812, would do irreparable damage to our economy and our standing in the world. And, as usual, the most vulnerable among us would pay the steepest price.”
Republicans who voted in favor of the legislation said it will limit the growth of the federal government.
Smucker, who represents the 11th Congressional District, said the deal “begins to put our nation on the right path.”
“This legislation may not do everything that everyone wishes for, but it’s an important step in the right direction to change the trajectory of America’s fiscal future, while we have divided government,” Smucker said.
Kelly touted the bill's spending limits and praised the permitting reforms for energy projects, calling it “a win for the American people and families of Western Pennsylvania.”
“Our national debt is a threat to our national security,” Kelly added. “No business could survive spending money the way the federal government does. I look forward to working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to get our fiscal policy back on track to avoid a crisis like this one in the future."
Perry, who leads the conservative House Freedom Caucus, publicly derided the agreement before the vote on Wednesday, calling the suspension of the debt ceiling “absolutely and completely unacceptable.”
He ultimately voted against the deal, as did Lee, a progressive Democrat from the western part of the state.
Ahead of the vote, Lee said in a Twitter thread she is against a default of the federal debt, but described the agreement as a “hostage bill weaponizing the debt limit to use the poorest people I represent as bargaining chips to give their corporate donors another handout.”
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