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Monday, July 15, 2024

House vote on its unpopular debt proposal uncertain Tuesday night

The House of Representatives: A temple of doom?
The House of Representatives: A temple of doom?

The House of Representatives, where Republicans threw a monkey wrench into efforts that were close to hatching a deal to reopen the government and extend the debt ceiling into next year, will vote Tuesday night on GOP proposal that has brought strong criticism to Speaker John Boehner and the conservative cult he allows to control his actions.

But the outcome of the vote is not only uncertain, the chances of a vote even taking place received a sharp setback late Tuesday afternoon when the House Rules postponed its hearing on the bill — a necessary first step towards any action on the proposal.

The House GOP plan would keep the government operating until Dec. 15 — two months from now — and extend the borrowing authority of the United States Treasury until Feb. 7.

The proposal also eliminates federal health care benefits for all members of Congress, the president, vice president and thousands of Congressional employees.

A proposal to delay funding of a tax on medical equipment for two years was stripped from the plan after widespread criticism from the Senate and White House.

Sources close to Boehner say he is still not sure if there are enough votes to pass the bill.

Senate negotiations on a bipartisan agreement to keep the government open into January of next year and extend federal borrowing authority was halted after the GOP proposal was announced earlier Tuesday.

The negotiations are expended to continue after the House vote.

“Nobody’s really happy with this legislation,” an aide close to Boehner told Captiol Hill Blue late Tuesday afternoon, “but the Speaker felt something, anything, needed to be done to get things moving on the issue.”

Senate Democrats and the White House have kept mum on the current version of the House bill and it is unclear if such a bill would pass in the Senate if it makes it out of the House.

As progress towards an agreement continued to languish Tuesday, the Fitch credit rating agency warned the U.S. government that is “reviewing” the current AAA credit rating and has placed America on “negative watch” — the first step in downgrading the rating.

“Political brinksmanship and reduced financing flexibility cold increase the risk of a U.S. default,” Fitch said in its statement announcing the “negative watch.”

Continued uncertainty on whether or not the government can meet its obligations will almost certainly lead to a downgrade in the rating.


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