The majority voted in favour of a motion to disagree with an amendment that would change the proposed rise in the debt ceiling from $500 billion to $400 billion instead.
Someone who voted aye to the motion disagreed with the amendment. The majority voted aye, so the amendment was unsuccessful.
This amendment was attached to the bill when it was returned from the Senate. The majority of senators had agreed with the amendment.(See the division in which the senators agreed to this amendment here. ) Since it has been rejected in the House of Representatives, the bill will be returned to the Senate and they will decide whether they will insist on the amendment or not. If they do, it is likely that the bill will fail unless a compromise is found. If they do not insist on it, then it is likely the bill will be passed with an increased debt ceiling of $500 billion.
Background to Bill
On 22 October 2013, the Abbott Government announced that it will raise the debt ceiling from $300 billion to $500 billion.(Read more about this in the media here. ) This was following the August 2013 Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Outlook which reported that the Treasurer's standing borrowing authority would reach the $300 billion limit by December 2013.
The purpose of the increase to the debt ceiling is to "provide stability and certainty to financial markets about the Government's ability to issue sufficient debt to manage its budget".(See the explanatory memorandum (106 KB). More about the bill, including its bills digest, is available here.)