The Senate dodged a U.S. debt disaster Thursday night, voting to extend the government’s borrowing power until December and temporarily avoid an unprecedented federal default that experts say would devastate the economy and hurt millions Americans.
This debate will take place as lawmakers also scramble to fund the federal government for the new fiscal year and continue their bitter fight over President Joe Biden’s top national priorities – a bipartisan infrastructure plan with nearly $ 550 billion. dollars in new spending as well as a much larger, $ 3.5 trillion effort focused on health, safety net programs and the environment.
The 50-48 vote in favor of the bill to raise the government’s debt ceiling by nearly half a trillion dollars brought instant relief to Washington and far beyond. However, it only offers a reprieve. Assuming the House agrees, which it will do, Republican and Democratic lawmakers will still have to address their deep differences on the issue before the end of the year.
Mitigating the current crisis – a disastrous default looming in just a few weeks – Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has offered his support to allow a short-term extension of the government’s borrowing power after leading a strong GOP opposition to a longer extension. He acted as Biden and business leaders increased fears that a default would disrupt government payments to millions of Americans and plunge the country into recession.
“I cannot vote to increase this debt ceiling, not at this time, especially given the plans in play to immediately increase spending by an additional $ 3.5 trillion,” said Senator Mike Lee of Utah shortly before the vote.
The GOP’s concession to relinquish its blockade, so far, was not popular with some members of McConnell’s Republican caucus, who have complained that the country’s debt levels are unsustainable.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz said Democrats were on “the road to surrender” on the process used to raise the debt ceiling, “and then, unfortunately, yesterday the Republicans blinked.”
But Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was among those who voted to end debate and allow a vote on the bill.
“I don’t want to let this train fall off the cliff,” she said. Eleven Republicans voted to end debate, providing the threshold necessary to move the bill to a final vote. However, no Republican sided with the Democrats in the final vote for the measure. McConnell insisted that the majority party will have to raise the debt ceiling itself.
Congress only has days to act before the Oct. 18 deadline, after which the Treasury Department warned it would quickly run out of funds to deal with the country’s already accumulated debt. The House is expected to return to approve the measure next week.
Republican leaders worked all day to find the 10 votes they needed from their party to advance the extension of the debt limit to a final vote, holding a private meeting in the late afternoon. It was a long and “heated” discussion in the room, said Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri. McConnell allowed All Views to be broadcast and ultimately told senators he would vote yes to limit debate.
The vote began with McConnell and South Dakota Senator John Thune the second-row Republican patiently waiting so slowly but surely nine of their GOP colleagues came in and gave the planned go-ahead. When Cruz voted no, McConnell joked, “I thought you were undecided. Thanks for introducing yourself. The White House signaled the support of Biden, with Deputy Senior Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre saying the president would sign a bill to increase the debt limit when passed by Congress. Stinging Republicans, she also said: “It gives us some breathing space from the catastrophic default we were approaching as a result of Senator McConnell’s decision to play politics with our economy.”
Wall Street recovered slightly on Thursday when the deal was announced. The deal sets the stage for some sort of sequel in December, when Congress faces pressing deadlines again to fund the government and raise the debt limit before heading home for the holidays.
Summary of the news:
- Senate dodges US debt distress, votes for loans
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