WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives' Tuesday vote against a "clean" debt limit increase — one with no budget cuts attached — was largely a political exercise from both parties eager to embarrass the other side.
The 318-97 vote against increasing the nation's $14.3 trillion debt limit, a figure reached a few weeks ago, was organized by Republicans who were against such a move unless it included major spending cuts. Democrats wanted a debt limit increase with no such strings attached.
Vice President Joe Biden is leading bipartisan talks aimed at finding those cuts — and perhaps new ways of raising revenue. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said the government is likely to run out of borrowing authority on Aug. 2.
Democrats decried the GOP-orchestrated vote Tuesday as little more than a cynical political ploy.
"It will not be an adult moment on the floor of the House of Representatives," said House Mi nority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., before the vote.
Democrats warned votes like the one Tuesday could rattle financial markets.
"It sends a terrible message to the international community," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. "I can't think of a way that is much more irresponsible than bringing up an extension of the debt limit extension just to show it can't pass."
Republicans maintained it's Democrats who are irresponsible. Where, GOP leaders asked, is the Democrats' plan to reduce the debt and deficits? This year's deficit is expected to hit $1.5 trillion, and the government is expected to accumulate $7 trillion worth of deficits over the next 10 years.
In a statement, Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, said, "I voted no on raising the debt ceiling. No to more debt without a change in behavior. No to increasing the credit card limit when the Obama Administration has zero commitment to reducing the unsustainable rate of spending. No to business as usual in Washington, D.C."