House Democrats passed a record $1.9 trillion increase in the federal debt limit without any help from Republicans on a 217-212 vote Thursday afternoon.
Thirty-seven Democrats voted against the increase, which brought the debt limit to $14.3 trillion. The vote is always a politically difficult one for the majority party and perhaps more so this year with Democrats worried about deep losses in the November midterm elections. But the record increase means Democrats won't need another debt limit increase before they appear on the ballot.
Democrats blamed the debt increase on the need to deal with the deep recession that they contend was caused by then-President George W. Bush's policies, while Republicans called it a symptom of government spending run amok.
Democrats cleared the pay-as-you-go bill 233-187, with 15 Democrats voting against and no Republicans voting in favor.
The PAYGO rules have come under fire from Republicans for exempting trillions of dollars in tax cuts and spending from the rule, while Democrats noted that the GOP ran up the debt by trillions when they were in charge by ditching PAYGO rules.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.