United States

Congress passes “clean” debt ceiling hike


With a modicum of partisan and intra-party squabbling, Congress passed a bill increasing the debt ceiling on Feb. 12, 2014. The president is expected to sign the bill, eliminating the threat of a default on the government's obligations over the next 12 months or so. The bill passed the House of Representatives 221-201, supported by 193 Democrats and 28 Republicans. It passed the Senate 67-31, supported by 55 Democrats and 12 Republicans.

The House Republican majority was unable to obtain intra-party consensus on a package of conditions some wanted to attach to the bill. A clean extension, supported mostly by Democrats, was passed instead. In the Senate, enough Senate Republicans agreed to support the measure to overcome a potential filibuster by dissident Republicans. Although this has been cast by many as a defeat for "Tea Party" Republicans, others take the view that this prevented them from engineering what would have been a self-defeating distraction, like last year's government shutdown, and enables Republicans of all stripes to continue to focus their election-year message on concerns related to Obamacare.

From a tax policy perspective, it is notable that not even a symbolic amendment, like a non-binding resolution in favor of "tax reform," was added in either legislative body. This may well be an omen suggesting that tax reform, and the passage of various tax "extenders," has been moved to the back burner, possibly until 2015 when some hope for, and others fear, a possible change in control of the Senate. 

RSM LLP is an Iowa limited liability partnership and the U.S. member firm of RSM International, a global network of independent accounting, tax and consulting firms. The member firms of RSM International collaborate to provide services to global clients, but are separate and distinct legal entities that cannot obligate each other. Each member firm is responsible only for its own acts and omissions, and not those of any other party.

RSM®, the RSM logo, the RSM Classic logo, The power of being understood®, Power comes from being understood®, and Experience the power of being understood® are registered trademarks of RSM LLP.

© 2014 RSM LLP. All Rights Reserved.

This publication represents the views of the author(s), and does not necessarily represent the views of RSM LLP.  This publication does not constitute professional advice.