Senate Democrats voted Tuesday to lift the nation’s debt ceiling by $2.5 trillion, providing enough money to extend federal borrowing authority beyond the 2022 midterm elections.
Democrats passed the measure unilaterally in an unusual agreement with Republicans, who refused to vote for a long-term increase in the debt limit in protest of Democrats’ spending legislation. The vote passed 50-49 with one Republican abstention.
Republicans provided 14 votes last week to pass a measure allowing Democrats to approve the debt limit increase with 51 votes instead of the usual 60 votes.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, praised the deal on the Senate floor earlier Tuesday. It came after weeks of partisan wrangling with the GOP.
“No brinkmanship, no default on the debt, no risk of another recession,” Schumer said Tuesday, “Responsible governing has won on this exceedingly important issue. The American people can breathe easy and rest assured there will not be a default.”
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The House is expected to approve the debt limit increase and send it to President Joe Biden’s desk for approval as early as Tuesday.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned earlier this month the government would risk defaulting on its loans unless Congress acted to lift the borrowing limit by Dec. 15.
Republicans refused to vote for a long-term increase in the borrowing limit, citing rampant spending by Democrats that is adding to the nation’s staggering debt, which now stands at more than $27 trillion.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, nonetheless cut a deal last week to facilitate a quick passage with only Democratic votes, prompting backlash from conservatives.
Democrats have passed trillions in new spending since taking control of Congress and the White House and are aiming to pass by Christmas the Build Back Better Act, a $1.85 trillion social welfare and green energy bill.
Republicans Tuesday cited a new report from the Congressional Budget Office that found the Build Back Better bill would add $3 trillion to the deficit over a decade if programs put in place are made permanent.
“I’m hard-pressed to think of anything more irresponsible than for Democrats to pass their Build Back Better, or their Build Back Bankrupt measure, right now,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, said. “Inflation is soaring.”
Schumer said the debt was accumulated by both parties and lifting the borrowing limit should be bipartisan.
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McConnell, in a floor speech Tuesday, blasted Democrats over their agenda, arguing it is contributing to skyrocketing inflation, which rose to 6.8% in November.
“Later today, every Senate Democrat is going to vote on party lines to raise our nation’s debt limit by trillions of dollars,” McConnell said.
“If they jam through another reckless taxing and spending spree, this massive debt increase will just be the beginning. More printing and borrowing. To set up more reckless spending. To cause more inflation. To hurt working families even more. The American people need a break.”