The stage is now set for this morning's White House meeting between President Obama and House Republicans, after the House rejected a proposal to unconditionally raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit last night. In an overwhelming showing, 318 members voted to oppose the proposal, while 97 opposed it. 82 Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, joined every single Republican in turning down the bill.
Even its sponsor, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp shot down his own legislation to prove that the GOP says it means business when it comes to deep spending cuts. On the House floor, Camp said, "This vote, a vote based on legislation I have introduced, will and must fail. Now, most members aren't happy when they bring a bill to the floor and it fails, but I consider defeating an unconditional increase to be a success, because it sends a clear and critical message that the Congress has finally recognized we must immediately begin to rein in America's affection for deficit spending."
At the same time, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer advised fellow Democrats to also vote down the bill and avoid what he called "a political charade. He said, "Its a good demagoging vote ladies and gentlemen and guess what if we vote for it, ah your for raising the debt limit without any fiscal discipline."
Earlier, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney expressed confidence that President Obama will "definitely" get Republican votes to raise the debt ceiling, calling yesterday's vote a means for lawmakers to send a message. "We understand the views that are being expressed. We share the concerns that drive those views. In the end, the debt ceiling has to be raised."
The Treasury Department says unless Congress votes to raise the debt ceiling by August 2. The federal government could be forced to default.