By a 285-144 vote, the House of Representatives approved a plan Wednesday to allow government borrowing through May 18, and the Senate and White House are expected to approve the deal to avoid a debt ceiling crisis. Washington bureau reporter Michael Scotto filed the following report for NY1.
WASHINGTON - In a major about-face, a majority of Republicans voted to temporarily suspend the debt limit without a commitment from Democrats to cut spending.
"It shows that the Republicans are in full-on retreat on fiscal policy," said Sen. Chuck Schumer.
The move allows the treasury to continue paying its bills for now, but sets up a larger fight this spring over reducing the size of the budget.
"It's time for Congress to get serious about this, and this is the first step in an effort to bring real fiscal responsibility to Washington," said House Speaker John Boehner.
Boehner was able to rally most of his often unruly caucus to support the measure, but 33 Republican defections meant Democratic support was needed to pass the bill.
In total, 86 Democrats supported it, while 111 voted no, calling it a gimmick.
"Instead of no cliffs, my Republican colleagues on the other side of the aisle are creating a new cliff," said Bronx and Queens Rep. Joseph Crowley. "The American people sent us here to work, not to play more games."
Senate Democrats said they support the bill and expect it to pass without changes in the coming days, leaving intact one provision that would withhold lawmakers' salaries if they fail to pass a budget.
The Obama administration has said the president would sign the bill, which would then set the stage for tough negotiations over how to cut the deficit.
"This is delaying the fight for three months, and that’s not very long, and there’s still huge issues to be resolved, a lot of disagreements between the two parties," said Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution. "But at least it gives us a little breathing room.
That breathing room is a welcome change for a place that usually holds its breath until well into the 11th hour.