President Barack Obama formally notified Congress today of the need to raise the debt limit, setting up a vote next week in the House on a resolution of disapproval.
Under the Budget Control Act, the debt limit will now increase by $1.2 trillion — to $16.4 trillion — automatically unless Congress passes a new law over Obama’s veto via a resolution of disapproval. The mechanism was designed to allow the debt limit to rise while giving lawmakers the ability to vote against it. They are free to vote against the increase even if they voted for the original bill authorizing it — while shifting maximum blame to the president. Even if the resolution of disapproval passes both chambers, Obama could veto it, and the votes are unlikely to be there for an override.
The House will take up the resolution of disapproval Wednesday, said Laena Fallon, spokeswoman for Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). A Senate vote could follow, although the timing is uncertain.
Obama delayed the request, which had been expected several weeks ago, so Congress would not have to return early from its recess to vote on the resolutions of disapproval.
“Washington’s mounting debt is a drag on our economic recovery, and this request is another reminder that the president has consistently punted on the tough choices needed to rein in the deficit and protect important programs for American seniors from going bankrupt,” said Brendan Buck, spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).