The Senate recently approved procedural votes 50 to 49 on a bill to increase the debt ceiling to $2.5 trillion, which brought Congress one step closer. After months of brinksmanship, the House of Representatives will likely quickly join the Senate to send the bill to President Joe Biden.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated that they presented bipartisan legislation that will allow this chamber to address the debt ceiling. He stated that the debt ceiling hike is expected to continue until 2023.
In protest at Dems’ plans to spend trillions along party lines, nearly all Senate GOP members said earlier this year that they would vote no on any increase in the debt ceiling. Conservatives demanded that Dems use budget reconciliation in raising the debt limit. This is the same process they used earlier this year to move their huge COVID spending bill and to reintroduce their social spending bill.
However, Dems led by Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer refused to use this process. This led to a standoff between the two political parties, which saw the U.S. within days of defaulting on its debt and causing economic disaster.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to temporarily increase the debt limit, which prevented default until December. While he stressed that Dems shouldn’t depend on Republican votes to raise the debt ceiling again, he still angered members of his party who saw it as caving to Dems.
As the U.S. neared a default date this month, McConnell & Schumer struck a deal that would have allowed all GOP members to vote against raising the debt ceiling without Dems using reconciliation. This allowed the Senate to raise the debt limit via a simple majority threshold.
This allows Dems to use their 50 votes plus Vice President Harris to break the tie to pass the bill. It does not require a vote-arama or other procedural hurdles that are associated with reconciliation, which GOP politicians were willing to speed up anyway.
Some in the GOP weren’t happy with McConnell’s deal and wanted to continue fighting to force Dems to make fiscal concessions so that the debt limit can be raised or to resolve the issue on their own.