The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Jan. 23 that will prevent the nation from defaulting on its debt until May. The measure passed in a 285-144 vote.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the Senate will pass the House bill without changes, noting that the legislation is “clean,” meaning it contains no spending cuts. The White House has said it would not block the legislation from becoming law.
Rather than raise the nation’s debt limit, this measure suspends it, allowing the United States to continue borrowing until May. In an attempt by Republican lawmakers to force Senate Democrats to take up a budget, the measure also suspends pay for lawmakers if their chamber does not pass a budget by April 15.
This all means that the nation’s debt limit, once the most potent of political weapons, is off the table until May 18. Republicans hope that this focuses Washington’s attention on replacing the automatic spending cuts that hit the Defense Department in March, government spending that expires at the end of March, and prescriptions for entitlement reform.