Senate Democrats Tuesday afternoon cleared a measure to lift the debt ceiling by $2.5 trillion, staving off a default through the 2022 midterms after months of partisan grandstanding over the critical issue from both parties.
The measure, passed on a 50-49 vote with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as a tiebreaker, comes just hours before Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the U.S. would be unable to meet its financial obligations. The House is expected to pass the measure late Tuesday or Wednesday, which would send it to President Joe Biden’s desk.
“No brinksmanship, no default on the debt, no risk of another recession: responsible governing has won on this exceedingly important issue,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the floor Tuesday, going on to thank Republicans for their cooperation. “The American people can breathe easy and rest assured there will not be a default.”
Raising the debt ceiling had resulted in partisan impasse for months, with Republicans long insisting that Democrats lift it on their own by attaching it to their filibuster-proof tax and spend package even after Congress agreed on a short-term raise to delay a default in October. But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer repeatedly refused to do so, and in an effort to avoid default, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to a deal that allowed Democrats to lift the ceiling on their own via a standalone bill.
Though McConnell was criticized by Republicans’ right flank over the deal, which allowed for a separate bill enabling Democrats to lift the ceiling without overcoming a filibuster, enough in his caucus supported for it to be adopted last week. Nevertheless, McConnell criticized Democrats for preparing to raise the debt ceiling while the national debt already totaled approximately $29 trillion.
“Later today, every Senate Democrat is going to vote on party lines to raise our nation’s debt limit by trillions of dollars,” McConnell said. “More printing and borrowing to set up more reckless spending to cause more inflation to hurt working families even more,” he later added.
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