US debt ceiling deal narrowly passes Senate, averting catastrophic federal default

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The Senate narrowly passed a bill to suspend the debt ceiling Thursday night, sending the legislation to Joe Biden’s office and averting a federal default that could have wreaked havoc on the US economy and global markets.

The final vote was 63 to 36, with 46 Democrats and 17 Republicans supporting the bill while five Democrats and 31 Republicans opposed the legislation. Sixty votes were needed to pass the bill.

“Tonight’s vote is a good result because the Democrats have done a very good job of eliminating the worst aspects of the Republican plan,” Senate Majority Leader Democrat Chuck Schumer said after the vote. “And that’s why Democrats voted overwhelmingly for this bill, while Republicans in the Senate certainly didn’t.”

Biden applauded the Senate’s achievement and promised to sign the bill as soon as it reached his desk, days away from the default June 5 deadline.

Related: Apostle of bipartisanship: Why the US debt ceiling deal was a victory for Joe Biden

“Tonight, senators from both parties voted to protect the hard-earned economic progress we’ve made and prevent a first-ever U.S. default,” Biden said in a statement. “Our work is far from done, but this agreement is a critical step forward and a reminder of what is possible when we act in the best interests of our country.

The Senate vote came a day after the House passed the debt ceiling bill in a resounding, bipartisan vote of 314 to 117. The bill — which was negotiated between Biden and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California – will suspend the government borrowing limit. until January 2025, ensuring that the issue does not resurface before the next presidential election.

The Senate’s final vote on the bill capped a long day in the upper house, where lawmakers spent hours considering amendments to the legislation. The 11 proposed amendments did not gain enough support to be added to the underlying bill.

Several of the amendments were introduced by Senate Republicans who expressed concern that the debt ceiling bill passed by the House did not do enough to rein in government spending.

As part of the negotiations on the bill, McCarthy was successful in obtaining modest reductions in government spending and changes in work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs. Those changes were deemed insufficient by 31 Republican senators, who echoed criticism voiced by the 71 House Republicans who opposed the bill a day earlier.

“It doesn’t go far enough. It doesn’t do the basic things it claims to do,” said Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, told Fox News Thursday morning. “On a case-by-case basis, the reductions he is offering will not materialize.”

Senate Minority Leader Republican Mitch McConnell backed the bill, though he acknowledged lawmakers needed to take new steps to tackle the federal government’s debt of more than $31 billion. dollars.

“The Fiscal Responsibility Act avoids the catastrophic consequences of a default on our nation’s debt,” McConnell said on the court Thursday morning. “The deal the House passed last night is a promising step towards fiscal health. But make no mistake: there is still a lot of work to be done. The fight against wasteful government spending is far from over. .

As some of their colleagues bemoaned the state of the US debt, defense hawks in the Senate Republican conference warned that the legislation did not adequately fund the Pentagon, leaving the US military vulnerable to foreign threats.

Schumer and McConnell attempted to assuage those concerns by placing a statement on the record reaffirming that America stands “ready to respond to continuing and growing threats to national security.”

“This debt ceiling agreement in no way limits the ability of the Senate to appropriate additional emergency funds to ensure that our military capabilities are sufficient to deter China, Russia and our other adversaries,” the report said. joint statement. “The Senate is not about to ignore our national needs, or abandon our friends and allies who face urgent threats from America’s most dangerous adversaries.”

Senate leaders released a second statement aimed at reassuring colleagues who have expressed concern over a provision that states a general spending cut will be enacted if Congress does not pass the 12 appropriation bills for the fiscal year 2024. The measure was designed to prompt Members of Congress to pass a full budget, which has proven to be a difficult task in recent years, but lawmakers fear the policy could lead to further spending cuts.

“We share the concern of many of our colleagues about the potential impact of sequestration and we will work in a bipartisan and collaborative way to avoid this outcome,” Schumer and McConnell said. “Leaders look forward to seeing the bills flagged out of committee with strong bipartisan support.”

Senate Democrats also lobbied against certain provisions of the bill, namely fast-tracking approval of the controversial Mountain Valley pipeline. Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, introduced an amendment to remove the pipeline provision from the underlying debt ceiling bill, but that measure failed alongside 10 other proposed amendments.

Despite their personal concerns about the details of the bill, most Senate Democrats, including Kaine, backed the legislation to get it to Biden’s office and avoid a devastating default that economists say could lead to the loss. millions of jobs. With the immediate crisis averted, Democrats reiterated their demands to eliminate the debt ceiling and eliminate any future threat of default.

“The fact remains that the House majority should never have put us at risk of a disastrous, self-inflicted default,” said Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat. “We must prevent the debt ceiling from being used as a political hostage and stop letting our country be brought to the brink of default.”

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