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Congress Clears Clean Debt Ceiling Bill

February 14, 2014—The Senate Feb. 12 approved a bill (S. 540) to suspend the statutory limit on the federal debt until March 15, 2015 on a party-line vote of 55-43.

The House passed the bill the previous day, 221-201, with 28 Republicans voting for the measure. President Obama has said he will sign the bill.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had tried to attach various policy provisions to the debt limit increase, including reversing a 1 percent cut in pensions for military retirees and creating a $2.3 billion fund to help offset the cost of a potential Medicare "doc fix," but ultimately had to bring a clean debt limit extension to the House floor.

Passage of this debt limit bill is in stark contrast to the standoff last fall that resulted in a shutdown of the federal government.  This time, neither side showed much interest in the political brinkmanship that has marked previous debt limit debates.

Congress accelerated the schedule to vote on the bill, anxious to leave Washington ahead of a major winter storm.

The only potential roadblock occurred when Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) objected to allowing the bill to be passed by a simple majority.  In the end, 12 Republicans joined the Democrats in a 67-31 vote to shut off debate.

The debt ceiling was technically breached Feb. 7, but the Treasury Department had estimated it could use its so-called "extraordinary measures" to avoid default until the end of February.


Dave Moore
Senior Director, Government Relations
Telephone: 202-828-0559


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Washington Highlights, a weekly electronic newsletter, features brief updates on the latest legislative and regulatory activities affecting medical schools and teaching hospitals.

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Jason Kleinman
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Telephone: 202-903-0806