The House passed a bill today to permit the government to borrow enough money to avoid default for the next few months, setting the stage for a springtime debate over taxes, spending, and the deficit. The House passed the measure by a 285-144 vote, a bipartisan showing on an initiative brought by majority Republicans. The legislation represents a tactical retreat for the GOP, which is backing away from its previous demand that any increase in the government's borrowing cap be paired with an equivalent level of spending cuts. Harry Reid said the Senate would immediately move to advance the legislation to the White House, which has announced that President Obama would sign it.
The measure would suspend the $16.4 trillion cap on federal borrowing and reset it on May 19 to reflect the additional borrowing required between the date the bill becomes law and then. The amount of borrowing required depends on the tax receipts received during filing season. Over a comparable period last year, the government ran deficits in the range of $150 billion.