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The Berkshires

House votes to raise the debt ceiling

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Albany/HV: House votes to raise the debt ceiling
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The House voted Wednesday to raise the debt ceiling for the next three months. But they did it with a catch, tying Congress members’ pay to the passage of a budget, something that hasn't happened in the U.S. Senate for several years. Our Michael Scotto has that story.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In a major about face, a majority of Republicans voted to temporarily suspend the debt limit, without a deal from Democrats to cut spending.

“It shows Republicans are in full on retreat of their fiscal policies,” New York Senator Charles Schumer said.

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.

House Speaker John Boehner said, “It’s time for Congress to get serious about this and this is the first step to bring real fiscal responsibility to Washington.”

House Speaker John 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, 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. The American people sent us here to work, not to play more games. But my republican colleagues are failing us once again,” New York Representative Joseph Crowley said.

Senate Democrats say 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 between the two parties, but at least it gives us a little breathing room,” said Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution.

That breathing room is a welcome change for a place that usually holds its breath until well into the 11 hour. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP