Updated Dec 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate passes deal clearing way to raise debt ceiling

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The Senate on Thursday passed a one-time measure to clear passage of legislation to raise the debt ceiling.

Why it matters: The 59-35 vote puts Congress on a path to raising the debt ceiling before the U.S. is would default on its debt. An earlier 64-36 vote to break the filibuster on the bill was the only step in the process that requires GOP support.

  • The bill allows the actual debt ceiling to be raised with just 51 votes, meaning no bipartisan agreement will be required.
  • The deal was a huge victory for congressional leaders, given most in the Capitol expected the process to be brutal and messy.

Driving the news: 14 Republicans voted with all Democrats to advance the bill and break the filibuster earlier Thursday, which, to the chagrin of some Republicans, also includes delays to Medicare cuts.

  • Among the 14 were Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), John Thune (R-S.D.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the top four members of Republican leadership.
  • The other Republicans were: John Cornyn (Texas), Roger Wicker (Miss.), Shelley Moore Capito (W. Va.), Susan Collins (Maine), Rob Portman (Ohio), Thom Tillis (N.C.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Joni Ernst (Iowa), and Mitt Romney (Utah).

What's next: After President Biden signs it into law, Democrats will move to pass the bill to raise the debt ceiling before Dec. 15.

What they're saying: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a floor speech earlier Thursday that the vote avoids "the prospect of a catastrophic, calamitous default on our sovereign debt."

  • Schumer thanked McConnell for "fruitful, candid and productive" talks on the bill. "This is the responsible path forward: no brinksmanship, no default on the debt, no risk of another recession."

The other side: "I will not green light [Democrats'] big government socialist agenda, which we know adds billions if not trillions of dollars to our national debt," Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said in a statement after voting against advancing the bill.

  • Cramer accused Democrats of "holding farmers, ranchers, patients, and health care providers hostage" by including the measures to avoid Medicare cuts.

Editor's note: This post has been updated with final passage of the bill.

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