Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Update on House Activities: Debt Ceiling, CR, and Defense Bill

The House has been extremely busy today, not only passing a $154 billion jobs bill but also passing a temporary continuing resolution, the defense appropriations bill, and a minor increase to the debt ceiling. 

On the debt ceiling, the House voted to increase the limit by a tiny margin -- $290 billion -- in order to give the government the ability to finance operations for roughly another six weeks. The Senate is expected to approve this measure before adjourning for the year.  This mini-increase in the debt ceiling will likely be welcomed by moderates in the Senate, who are hoping to use the next large increase in their favor to push for the need to create some sort of a fiscal commission. Why six weeks? This ostensibly gives President Obama the chance, in his State of the Union address next month, to lay out any plans for tackling runaway deficits and high debt. Many Democrats had originally hoped to pass a $2 trillion increase to the ceiling, which would be enough to hold off on another vote on this issue until after the 2010 midterm elections.

See CRFB's latest primer on the debt ceiling.

The Defense appropriations bill the House sent to the Senate was a whopping $636.6 billion. That bill would also extend unemployment benefits and other non-military programs through the end of February. A summary of the bill can be seen here. As for the continuing resolution, the House adopted a short term CR to fund the agencies that have not yet had current year spending bills enacted. The current CR expires tomorrow (December 18), and the new one lasts until December 23 of this year.