House Republicans dealt defeat to their own proposal for a $2.4 trillion increase in the nation's debt limit today, a political gambit designed to reinforce a demand for spending cuts to accompany any increase in government borrowing. The vote was lopsided, with just 97 in favor of the measure and 318 against. House Democrats accused the GOP of political demagoguery, while the Obama administration maneuvered to avoid taking sides—or giving offense to majority Republicans.
The bill "will and must fail," said Rep. Dave Camp, the House Ways and Means Committee chairman, who noted he had helped write the very measure he was criticizing. "I consider defeating an unconditional increase to be a success, because it sends a clear and critical message that the Congress has finally recognized we must immediately begin to rein in America's affection for deficit spending." Timothy Geithner has previously warned that the debt limit must be raised by Aug. 2. (Read more debt ceiling stories.)