U.S. Senate passes, sends Biden bill paving way for debt limit hike

WASHINGTON, Dec 9 (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved and sent President Joe Biden the first of two bills needed to raise the federal government’s $ 28.9 trillion debt limit and prevent a default. without precedents.

The Senate voted 59-35 in favor of the measure, with 10 Republicans, including minority leader Mitch McConnell, backing the bill, which allows an upcoming vote on raising the debt ceiling to pass the House. with a simple majority. McConnell said earlier this week that he believed the procedure was in the best interest of the country because it prevents non-compliance.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives passed the legislation Wednesday night by 222-212, with only one Republican backing it. read more

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Biden is expected to quickly sign the unusual procedural measure that paves the way for the second bill, which would actually increase the government’s borrowing authority, to pass in the coming days.

“I want to be clear, this is about paying the debt accumulated by both parties. So I am pleased that we were able to facilitate a process with supportive members of both parties that avoids a catastrophic and unnecessary default,” said House Democrat Majority. . Leader Chuck Schumer said in a speech after the vote on the measure that he had negotiated with McConnell.

“This was a bipartisan process, and I hope there can be more and I want to thank Leader McConnell for working with us in good faith to get to this point,” said Schumer.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has urged Congress to raise the limit by next Wednesday, and Congress now appears to be on track to do so.

Final votes on the second bill to implement the debt limit are expected in the Senate and House on Tuesday.

Republicans have been maneuvering for months to try to force Democrats to raise the debt limit on their own, seeking to link the measure to Biden’s $ 1.75 trillion “Rebuild Better” internal spending bill. .

Democrats point out that the legislation is necessary to fund the substantial debt incurred during the Donald Trump administration, when Republicans voluntarily increased Washington’s credit card bill by approximately $ 7.85 trillion, in part through tax cuts and expenditures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

A disclosure of the actual dollar amount for the new limit on Treasury lending, which is expected to cover Washington’s spending until the 2022 midterm elections that will determine control of Congress, is yet to come in the protracted legislative battle.


Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who is running for reelection in Alaska next year, told reporters that she voted earlier with 13 other Republicans to promote the first bill because “it was the right thing to do.”

He added that at a time when Russia is amassing troops on its border with Ukraine, “we don’t need to send signals anywhere in the world that we are not going to endorse the full faith and credit in America.”

Some Republicans, including Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, said they supported the measure because it included provisions to avoid cuts that would otherwise occur next year in the Medicare health care program for seniors.

But Republican Senator Mike Rounds said he voted against it because “they (the Democrats) have been spending money in a partisan way without the involvement of the Republicans. So they have an obligation to raise the debt ceiling right now.”

The breaking of the legislative deadlock came just two months after Congress agreed to a short-term increase in the debt ceiling, to avoid an unprecedented default by the federal government of its obligations, which would have serious implications for the economy. world.

In recent years, lawmakers have worried about raising the legal cap on the country’s mounting debt, fearing backlash from voters.

The 2010 rise of the conservative “Tea Party” movement of small governments increased resentment in Congress for such legislation, even as lawmakers voted for tax cuts and spending increases that contribute to debt.

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Report by Richard Cowan, David Morgan, Susan Cornwell and Moira Warburton; Editing by Scott Malone, Mary Milliken and Peter Cooney

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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