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House Rejects Debt Limit Increase Without Cuts

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House Rejects Debt Limit Increase Without Cuts

Politics

House Rejects Debt Limit Increase Without Cuts

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ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

And I'm Michele Norris.

Today, another show vote in Congress. Last week, Democrats in the Senate forced Republicans to vote on a House GOP proposal that would make controversial changes to Medicare. Now, the Republicans who run the House have done something similar. They forced Democrats to vote on raising the debt ceiling without addressing the spending that drove up the debt.

The vote was bound to fail and late today it did: 97-318. All Republicans voted no along with nearly half the Democrats.

As NPR's David Welna reports, the failed vote is precisely what Republicans wanted.

DAVID WELNA: When House GOP leaders scheduled today's vote simply to raise the debt ceiling by another $2.4 trillion, they knew that tomorrow the entire House Republican caucus would be trooping to the White House to meet with President Obama.

Texas Republican Jeb Hensarling is on the House leadership team. He says today's vote will show that Congress won't raise the debt ceiling without cutting more spending.

JEB HENSARLING: It's an important vote to have to show the president that is not where Congress is. It's not where the American people are.

WELNA: Nonsense, says Oregon House Democrat Peter DeFazio.

PETER D: It's purely a political artifice, so they can say, look, everybody is against it. So, now, you know, this strengthens their hand. In my position, I'm saying, you know, until these guys get serious about the debt and the deficit which means you have to talk both about cutting and you have to talk about revenues then this is all just a charade.

STENY HOYER: It will not be an adult moment on the floor of the House of Representatives.

WELNA: That's Steny Hoyer, the number two House Democrat, speaking of today's vote. He recalled that House Speaker John Boehner had earlier promised that voting on the debt ceiling would be the first really big adult moment for the new GOP House majority.

HOYER: To put something on the floor for the purposes of seeing it fail is a demonstration of the fact that this is simply a political charade.

WELNA: Hoyer urged Democrats to vote either no or present, but Republicans point out that 114 House Democrats signed a letter last month demanding that any bill raising the debt ceiling have no strings attached.

Again, GOP leader Jeb Hensarling.

HENSARLING: So I don't quite understand how they can now be protesting us holding a vote on what they asked us to hold a vote on.

ROSS BAKER: The large number of the bills that are introduced really have nothing more to do than to embarrass the opposition.

WELNA: That's Rutgers University congressional expert Ross Baker. He says today's vote also let's Republicans say they opposed raising the debt limit.

BAKER: The eternal quest for political cover factors very prominently in this decision by the Republicans. And, you know, it's a more graceful way of saying I voted against it before I voted for it.

WELNA: Baker predicts Republicans will strike a bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling by the Treasury's deadline of August 2nd.

David Welna, NPR News, the Capitol.

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