The Republican-controlled U.S. House has approved a plan for raising the debt ceiling through the end of 2012. The vote was 269 to 161. 66 Republicans voted against the proposal, so Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was unable to bring enough of his conference along and needed at least some of the 95 Democratic votes in support of the bill.
The Senate will vote on the bill at noon ET on Tuesday and Senators have agreed that it will take 60 votes to pass.
The measure would raise the debt ceiling in several steps lasting until 2013 and would reduce the federal budget deficit by about $2.1 trillion over a 10-year period. The plan calls for a special joint committee that would be tasked with recommending where about $1.2 trillion of that deficit reduction should come from- in spending cuts or revenue. Those recommendations would then have to be voted on by the full House and Senate under special rules. If the joint committee or Congress fail to act, the bill calls for automatic across-the-board cuts.
The plan also requires the House and Senate to vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, which would require a 2/3 majority in both.
President Obama appeared at the White House last night just after 8:30pm ET to announce that Congressional leaders from both parties had reached the agreement. Though he said it wasn't the deal he "would have preferred," the President nonetheless threw his support behind the plan.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said at today's press briefing that "the cloud of uncertainty" had been lifted. "It's not the (plan) the president or Democratic lawmakers would've crafted" Carney told reporters.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid summed up the measure to reporters as “typical for compromise legislation” and stated his hope that Congress "can get this done quickly, but there is still work to do."
House Democrats have encouraged the President to invoke the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution to unilaterally lift the debt ceiling without Congressional authorization. The White House continues to reject that option.