Senate lawmakers voted Thursday to fast-track a measure to raise the nation’s borrowing limit, likely until after the 2022 midterm elections.
The move paves the way for the House and Senate next week to pass legislation increasing the debt ceiling ahead of a Dec. 15 deadline set by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
“This is a responsible path forward,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said ahead of the vote. “No brinkmanship, no default on the debt, no risk of another recession.”
WHICH 10 REPUBLICANS WILL HELP DEMOCRATS RAISE THE DEBT LIMIT?
The vote to fast-track the bill followed weeks of negotiations between Senate Democrats and Republicans, who have refused to provide the votes needed to pass a long-term increase in the borrowing limit.
The GOP minority believes Democrats should pass a debt limit increase unilaterally because the party’s legislative agenda exceeds $5 trillion, raising concerns about the deficit.
Since President Joe Biden has taken office, the Democratic-led House and Senate have passed $1.9 trillion in COVID-19 aid and $1.2 trillion in infrastructure spending; they aim to pass a $1.85 trillion social welfare and green energy spending bill in the coming weeks.
The U.S. debt, meanwhile, has increased significantly over the past decade and now tops $27 trillion.
Thursday’s bill to fast-track the process for Democrats, however, required the support of 10 GOP lawmakers in order to clear a 60-vote threshold.
The bipartisan deal stirred a backlash from fiscal conservatives, who oppose Republicans facilitating a debt ceiling increase, even indirectly.
The House passed the fast-track measure late Tuesday, with all but one Republican voting against it.
“Voters should be appalled that Republican leadership is basically giving Democrats their Christmas wish list on a silver platter,” Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, wrote in a Washington Examiner op-ed on Thursday. “This horrible ‘deal’ they concocted gives Democrats an easy path to raise the debt ceiling using expedited procedures and would enable even more reckless spending.”
Paul’s Kentucky colleague, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, negotiated the deal with Schumer, the majority leader.
McConnell reasoned the accord makes it possible for Democrats to pass a debt limit increase on their own, without a single Republican vote, even though 10 GOP lawmakers were needed to greenlight the process:
“I believe we've reached a solution to the debt ceiling issue that's consistent with Republican views of raising the debt ceiling for this amount at this particular time, and allows the Democrats to proudly own it, which they're happy to do.”
The deal prompted quick and harsh criticism from former President Donald Trump, who has become a vocal McConnell critic.
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Trump issued a press release this week declaring McConnell could have forced Democrats to use a more lengthy budgetary tactic to pass the debt ceiling increase without any GOP votes.
“Mitch McConnell just folded on the Debt Ceiling, a total victory for the Democrats,” Trump wrote.
But McConnell and other Republicans feared the party would be blamed for the disastrous economic consequences that would come if Congress failed to lift the ceiling.