The bill the House of Representatives just passed by a 285-144 will suspend the $16.4 trillion cap on the debt ceiling and reset it on May 19 to reflect the additional borrowing required between the date the bill becomes law and then.
There are pros and cons over this course of action and conservative supporters have legitimate concerns, but the GOP leadership believes the pros outweigh the cons, by taking default off the table and re-sequencing the budget battles so that the issue where the GOP has the majority of American's support comes before debt limit battle.
Spending cuts, fiscal responsibility and a balanced budget.
Via The AP:
The idea driving the move by GOP leaders like Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is to re-sequence a series of upcoming budget battles, taking the threat of a potentially devastating government default off the table and instead setting up a clash in March over automatic across-the-board spending cuts set to strike the Pentagon and many domestic programs. Those cuts - postponed by the recent "fiscal cliff" deal - are the punishment for the failure of a 2011 congressional deficit-reduction supercommittee to reach an agreement.
With the debt battle averted, the next fight comes in March over across-the-board cuts that would pare $85 billion from this year's budget. They were delayed from Jan. 1 until March 1 and reduced by $24 billion by the recently enacted tax bill. Defense hawks are particularly upset, saying the Pentagon cuts would devastate military readiness and cause havoc in defense contracting. The cuts, called a sequester in Washington-speak, were never intended to take effect but were instead aimed at driving the two sides to a large budget bargain in order to avoid them.
But Republicans and Obama now appear on a collision course over how to replace the across-the-board cuts. Obama and his Democratic allies insist that additional revenues be part of the solution; Republicans say further tax increases are off the table after the 10-year, $600 billion-plus increase in taxes on wealthier earners forced upon Republicans by Obama earlier this month.
"We are not going to raise taxes on the American people," Boehner told reporters Tuesday.
Since Obama and Democrats very publicly received their tax rate increases on the upper income segment of Americans and tax hikes on 77 percent of American workers by allowing the payroll tax holiday to expire, in the fiscal cliff deal, the GOP leadership now believe they can focus the public's attention on the necessary spending cuts to put the nation on a fiscally responsible path to a balanced budget.