The Fiscal Responsibility Act – more commonly referred to as the debt ceiling bill – passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a resounding 314-117 vote on Wednesday night.
The bill now heads to the U.S. Senate for concurrence.
“Passing the Fiscal Responsibility Act is a crucial first step for putting America back on track,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said on the House floor Wednesday. “It does what is responsible for our children, what is possible in divided government, and what is required by our principles and promises.”
“Yes, it may not include everything we need to do,” he continued, “but it is absolutely what we need to do right now.”
The majority Republican party was only able to muster 149 ayes of the 218 needed for the Act to pass. One hundred sixty-five Democrats voted for passage as well, while 46 joined 71 GOP members in opposition.
“This bill increases the federal debt limit, establishes new discretionary spending limits, rescinds unobligated funds, and expands work requirements for federal programs.
Specifically, the bill suspends the federal debt limit through January 1, 2025, and increases the limit on January 2, 2025, to accommodate the obligations issued during the suspension period.
In addition, the bill establishes new discretionary spending limits for FY2024 and FY2025 that are enforced with sequestration (i.e., automatic spending cuts). It also changes the limits to 1% below the FY2023 base funding levels if a continuing resolution is in effect on or after January 1, 2024, or on or after January 1, 2025, because all 12 regular appropriations bills were not enacted by the end of the prior year.
The bill also includes provisions that
- rescind certain unobligated funds that were provided to address COVID-19 and to the Internal Revenue Service;
- provide funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs Cost of War Toxic Exposure Fund;
- provide funding for the Department of Commerce Nonrecurring Expenses Fund;
- provide statutory authority through 2024 for the requirement for agencies that propose certain administrative actions that will increase direct spending to also propose at least one administrative action that will decrease direct spending by at least the same amount (commonly known as administrative pay-as-you-go rules);
- terminate the suspension of federal student loan payments;
- expand the work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program; and
- expedite the permitting process for certain energy projects.
Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) said she voted for the Act to ensure America would not default. “This is not a perfect bill, but that’s the nature of compromise. We cannot default — my vote for the Bipartisan Budget Agreement is a vote to protect the livelihoods of my constituents.”
“I am proud to vote for the Fiscal Responsibility Act,” said Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Butler). “This bill will continue to pay the bills of America while also defunding IRS agents, enabling American energy, and cutting inflationary Progressive spending. This deal is a win for the American people & families in Western PA.”
Reps. Summer Lee (D-Allegheny) and Scott Perry (R-Cumberland/Dauphin/York) were the lone members of the Pennsylvania delegation to vote against the package.
“On behalf of the people I represent – I will vote ‘NO’ on Republican’s hostage bill weaponizing the debt limit to use the poorest people I represent as bargaining chips to give their corporate donors another handout,” said Lee. “In recent weeks, Rs took us to the brink of crushing default to force through their cruel agenda, proving their disdain for democracy & working Americans As a Black woman from the working class, I have an obligation to be a voice for the people, especially the most marginalized.”
Yes (15): Boyle, Cartwright, Dean, Deluzio, Evans, Fitzpatrick, Houlahan, Joyce, Kelly, Meuser, Reschenthaler, Scanlon, Smucker, Thompson, Wild.
No (2): Lee, Perry