WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Legislation to increase the federal debt limit got a boost on Thursday when House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that it would be combined with a must-pass military spending bill.
“We need to have a vehicle so that the Senate can vote on it, and it is our intention to have something on the Department of Defense bill next week,” Pelosi told a news conference.
The tactic greatly increases the legislation’s chances of clearing Congress before the Treasury Department runs into the current limit of $12.1 trillion, as it will give lawmakers political cover at a time of growing public concern about the nation’s spiraling debt.
But it could alienate Republicans who usually line up behind military spending.
Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee, which oversees the military spending bill, wrote to Pelosi that they would vote against it if it included the debt-limit increase.
The Treasury Department has said it needs Congress to raise the debt ceiling by the end of the year to allow the government to keep funding its operations.
The House will increase the debt limit by $1.8 trillion, Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey said in debate on the House floor.
That would be enough to cover the government’s borrowing needs through 2010, according to other lawmakers’ estimates.
Reporting by Andy Sullivan and Arshad Mohammed; editing by Chris Wilson