86 Dems to vote for GOP debt-limit bill

4:46 PM, Jan 23, 2013   |    comments
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By Raju Chebium
Gannett Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, voted for a GOP debt-limit bill Wednesday, becoming one of 86 House Democrats to do so.

The measure passed the Republican-controlled House 285-144, with 199 Republicans voting yes and 111 Democrats voting no. Thirty-three Republicans crossed party lines to vote no.

The Democratic-majority Senate is expected to approve it quickly and send it to the White House. President Barack Obama has said he will sign it into law.

The legislation marks a strategic turnaround for House Republicans, who threatened to block a debt-limit increase to force Democrats to agree to spending cuts.

But GOP leaders decided last week to instead extend the nation's $16.4 debt ceiling through May 18. That would prevent the country from defaulting on debt it has already incurred and buy time for lawmakers to resolve fiscal debates.

The debt ceiling does not authorize new spending, but experts say failing to raise it could devastate the global economy.

The GOP plan requires the House and the Senate to pass budgets by April 15. If not, members' salaries would be withheld until they pass a budget or until the current congressional session ends in two years.

"Americans don't get paid if they don't do their jobs, and neither should members of Congress," Ruiz said in a statement. "This common sense, bipartisan legislation will force Congress to perform and be accountable to the people."  

Among those voting no was Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.

In a blog posting before the vote, her office accused the House GOP of failing to provide promised certainty for the U.S. economy.

"The GOP will act today to do just the opposite.  House Republicans are offering a short-term gimmick that will only lead to another one of their trademark manufactured crises," according to the blog posting.

Gannett Washington Bureau

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