The Senate on Thursday moved forward with legislation aimed at creating a single, swift process to raise the debt limit, overcoming a delaying tactic by Republicans and likely avoiding another last-minute rush by not falling into a devastating federal default.
The bill fits in with the two goals Republican leader Mitch McConnell had set months ago for the vote to increase the nation’s borrowing authority: Democrats will likely have to pass the debt ceiling increase on their own. , without the support of the Republican Party, and they will have to increase it by a specific amount.
McConnell got enough Republican votes to advance the bill when 14 Republicans voted alongside Democrats to end the debate.
That was the most precarious and unpredictable vote of the process.
Now, the bill goes to the table of President Joe Biden for enactment.
Now that it’s passed, Democrats can use their majority to approve the debt ceiling increase themselves – likely next week – without worrying about getting the 60 votes needed to overcome another delaying tactic.
“This is the responsible path,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “Without risky maneuvers, without stopping to pay the debt, without risk of another recession.”
Still, it has not been an easy task for McConnell. Republicans complained privately and in full Senate about the deal.
Although they won’t have to vote in favor of raising the debt limit, they did have to make it easier for the Senate to get to the final vote.
“An agreement has been reached to give us – some of us see it that way – the possibility to choose between voting for a heart attack or for cancer,” said Republican Senator John Kennedy, who voted against advancing the plan.
But some Republicans said the United States should not send signals to the rest of the world that cast doubt on its creditworthiness.
“It was the right thing to do because the last thing this country needs is a debt default,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.
The bill establishes a single, rapid process for the Senate to approve an increase in the debt limit by a specified amount with a simple majority.
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