Senate passes debt ceiling bill, sending it to Biden to become law and avoid disaster


President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill into law well ahead of Monday’s debt ceiling deadline, ending months of negotiations to pay the nation’s bills.

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted Thursday night to pass a bill that would extend the debt ceiling for two years and establish a two-year budget deal in a broad bipartisan vote.

The vote was 63-36.

Having already cleared the House on Wednesday, it now goes to President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it and avert a fiscally devastating impasse with days to go before Monday’s deadline.

The deal was brokered by Biden, a Democrat, and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, after a long stalemate and a frantic few weeks of negotiations as the US neared the precipice. Biden will address the nation on the bill at 7 p.m. ET Friday.

“America can breathe a sigh of relief. Because in the process we are avoiding bankruptcy,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “The consequences of bankruptcy would be catastrophic.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., championed the bill as “an urgent and important step in the right direction — for the health of our economy and the future of our country.”

The final vote in the Senate came after 11 amendments were considered — a request by various senators in exchange for agreeing to quickly vote on the bill. all amendments were defeated. That deal allowed the Senate to bypass a series of hurdles that could, without unanimous consent, push the US past Monday’s debt ceiling deadline. The senators also wanted to leave town for a long weekend, speeding up procedural talks.

Extending the debt ceiling does not allow for new spending. it enables the US to pay off existing debts that both parties have accumulated over many years through demands for higher spending on domestic and military programs, as well as lower taxes.

Once signed into law, the bill would cap spending over the next two years with a modest cut in civilian spending and a modest expansion in defense spending. It includes conservative measures to recover about $28 billion in unused Covid relief funds, eliminate $1.4 billion in IRS funding and overhaul the permitting process for energy projects.

The bill would restart federal student loan payments after a long “pause” that began early in the pandemic. And it would impose work requirements on people up to age 55 to get benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF. currently, work requirements apply for recipients up to age 50. Changes to SNAP and TANF include cuts for veterans, the homeless and adults up to age 24 out of foster care.

The Biden-McCarthy deal will make no changes to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

Schumer celebrated the bill as a victory for Democrats Thursday night, noting that more Democrats supported the bill than Republicans in both chambers.

“Thank you to my colleagues for a job well done tonight,” Schumer said. “I applaud President Biden and his team for reaching a reasonable compromise under the most difficult of circumstances. So many of the devastating provisions in the Republican bill are gone.”

McConnell praised McCarthy in a statement that he acted first and passed a bill that “avoids the devastating consequences of bankruptcy and begins to curb Washington Democrats’ addiction to the reckless spending that is increasing our nation’s debt.”


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