House Republicans narrowly passed an altered version of their plan to raise the debt limit late Friday afternoon, though Senate Democrats were poised to immediately kill the legislation.
The bill passed 218 to 210, with the support of no Democrats. 22 Republicans voted against the bill. Republicans needed 216 votes for passage.
House Speaker John Boehner was able to win over skeptical fiscal conservatives by requiring that a second debt ceiling increase roughly six months from now be tied to passage of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution – something that would require a two thirds majority in both the House and the Senate. Boehner had to cancel a planned vote on the measure last night because he did not have the votes for passage.
The bill will now go to the Senate, where Democrats have vowed to vote it down tonight. They plan to move forward on an alternate plan that would cut around $2 trillion in spending and extend the nation’s borrowing authority through 2012.
Democrats say the House GOP plan, which would reduce spending by $917 billion over ten years, is unacceptable because it would initially only increase the debt limit for about six months. That, they say, will create economic uncertainty, put the United States’ Triple-A credit rating at risk and require another difficult debt limit debate during the holiday season.