Senate takes measure to increase debt ceiling and prevent hardship
The US Senate has adopted a short-term measure to raise the country’s debt ceiling into December. The move could pull the federal government back from the fiscal brink .
Lawmakers adopted the proposal strictly along party lines, with Democrats voting to lift the country’s borrowing cap by $480 billion and Republicans maintaining their steadfast opposition to it. The divide persisted even amid repeated warnings from President Joe Biden this week that inaction threatened to plunge the country into a new recession.
On Thursday, Republicans did supply some of the votes necessary to advance the measure over key procedural hurdles in the otherwise deadlocked Senate. But even that task proved to be a significant political undertaking for GOP leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who faced criticism from his own members simply for making a deal with Democrats.
The resolution would end a tense few weeks of partisan warfare, during which Democrats tried repeatedly to suspend the country’s debt ceiling into 2022 – only to falter at the hands of GOP objections.
Mr McConnell led the blockade as part of the party’s broader campaign against Mr Biden’s spending agenda, including a still-forming package of up to $3.5 trillion (€3.03 trillion) in spending that GOP lawmakers oppose.
But Mr McConnell backed down late on Wednesday, offering Democrats a temporary, roughly two-month reprieve. Republicans ultimately provided the 10 votes that Democrats needed to conclude debate a day later, though GOP lawmakers soon after voted against the actual increase to the debt ceiling.
In ultimately allowing the measure to pass, some Republicans ignored a last-minute call to scuttle the deal by former President Donald Trump.
With a short-term solution in hand, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hailed the development on the Senate floor late on Thursday as a critical step toward “avoiding a first-ever, Republican-manufactured default on the national debt.”
“Republicans played a dangerous and risky partisan game,” he added, “and I am glad that their brinkmanship did not work.”
With a House vote expected soon, the measure is poised to head off a financial crisis with only days to spare ahead of the original October 18 deadline.
(© Washington Post)