Defying a veto threat, the Republican-controlled House voted Tuesday night to slice federal spending by $6 trillion and require a constitutional balanced budget amendment to be sent to the states in exchange for averting a threatened Aug. 2 government default.
The 234-190 vote marked the power of deeply conservative first-term Republicans, and it stood in contrast to rising support at the White House and in the Senate for a late stab at bipartisanship to solve the nation's looming debt crisis.
President Barack Obama and a startling number of Republican senators lauded a deficit-reduction plan put forward earlier in the day that would include $1 trillion in what sponsors delicately called "additional revenue" and some critics swiftly labeled as higher taxes.
The president said he hoped congressional leaders would "start talking turkey" on a deal to reduce deficits and raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit as soon as Wednesday, using the plan by the so-called Senate Gang of Six as a roadmap.
Wall Street cheered the news of possible compromise as well. The Dow Jones industrials average soared 202 points, the biggest one-day leap this year.
Treasury officials say that without an increase in U.S. borrowing authority by Aug. 2, the government will not be able to pay all its bills, and default could result with severe consequences for the economy.
The legislation, dubbed "Cut, Cap and Balance" by supporters, would make an estimated $111 billion in immediate reductions and ensure that overall spending declined in the future in relation to the overall size of the economy.
It also would require both houses of Congress to approve a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and send it to the states for ratification.
With a dwindling amount of time remaining, the day's events did little to suggest a harmonious end was in sight to a clash between the parties.
Debate in the House was along predictable lines, and only nine Republicans opposed the bill and five Democrats supported it on final passage.
"Our bloated and obese federal budget needs a healthy and balanced diet, one that trims the fat of overspending and grows the muscle of our nation's economy," said Rep. Reid Ribble of Wisconsin during debate on the measure.
Ribble is one of 87 first-term House Republicans determined to reduce the size of government.
Democrats said the measure, with its combination of cuts and spending limits, would inflict damage on millions who rely on Social Security, Medicare and other programs. "The Republicans are trying to repeal the second half of the 20th century," said Rep. Sander Levin, D-Michigan.
Read the whole story here.