Hitchhiker's Guide to the resolution of disapproval to raise the debt ceiling

CAPITOL HILL -- Here's some general guidance on how this vote involving the debt ceiling will unfold Wednesday in the House:

Bottom line: A final vote on this is expected between 4-6 pm ET.

Here's how this works.

The House and Senate approved the Budget Control Act last August. This was part of the big package following the months-long imbroglio about raising the debt ceiling.

The bill provided for an immediate increase in the debt ceiling and two subsequent efforts to raise the debt ceiling. It also created the "super committee."

The House vote on the Budget Control Act was 269-161 -- 174 Rs and 95 Ds voted yea.

Everyone knew that the government would need to raise the debt ceiling two more times before the November 2012 election. But there is no vote more onerous for a member of Congress than raising the debt ceiling.

So, to give air cover for members yet provide for the debt limit to be raised, lawmakers allowed both houses of Congress to vote on "resolutions of disapproval."

In other words, a "yea" vote in favor of "disapproving" of the debt ceiling rejects a hike in the debt limit.

Plus, this give members a good chance to rail against the president, vent about the debt and look good because they didn't vote to raise the debt ceiling. In fact, they voted to "disapprove" of President Obama's request to increase the debt limit.

A couple things about this:

By definition, resolutions are not binding and do not have the force of law. It is inaccurate to refer to this measure on the floor as a "bill."

Secondly, even if both chambers of Congress were to vote in favor of the resolution of disapproval, the debt ceiling would probably still go up.

Why? Because the president could veto what Congress did. It would take a two-thirds vote by both bodies of Congress to override the veto.

That is a high bar and hard to reach.

So ...

In many respects, Wednesday's vote is a pageant. It's almost a fait accompli that the debt ceiling will go up. But the House is likely to vote against it, and the measure gives the House a lot of opportunity to complain about the rising debt and juxtapose its position with the president.