Congress Set For Another Debt Ceiling Vote, But This Time It's Merely Symbolic

Jan 18, 2012

The U.S. House of Representatives will likely vote today to disapprove of raising the debt ceiling by $1.2 trillion. If you remember, the last time a vote of this kind went down, it was a dramatic showdown that rattled markets and was cited as one of the prime reasons S&P downgraded the United States' debt rating.

Today's vote however will be symbolic. The debt ceiling will likely be raised no matter how Congress votes.

Our Newscast desk spoke to NPR's Andrea Seabrook, who explained the vote like this:

If you remember, the deal back in August laid this scenario out. As Andrea explained, the vote is merely political theatre, because it allows Republicans or anyone else in Congress to disagree with raising the debt ceiling without actually denying the president that power. It essentially gives Congress political cover, because the House vote would have to overcome a Democratic Senate and a veto from President Obama to actually stop the debt ceiling from raised.

Here's how the Christian Science Monitor explains it:

"In effect, Washington has built itself a buffer heading into the 2012 elections. The big partisan clashes on spending and the debt limits were settled in Congress last year. The federal government is now funded until Oct. 1, the start of a new fiscal year. With this week's expected hike in the debt limit, the federal government should have enough room for borrowing through the November elections.

"In December, a lame-duck Congress will have to grapple once again with toxic issues, including expiring Bush tax cuts and perhaps another hike in the debt limit. But for now, with the threat of a default or government shutdown off the table, both Democrats and Republicans have more scope for rhetorical warfare.

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