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Senate passes deal to raise debt ceiling into December

by Lester Blair
Senate passes deal to raise debt ceiling into December
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WASHINGTON – The Senate Thursday night ended a partisan stalemate over the nation’s debt ceiling that had threatened to roil global financial markets, agreeing to a temporary extension that portends another showdown in early December.

By a 50-48 vote, the Democratic-led Senate approved the two-month extension. A few Senate Republicans joined Democrats to end the filibuster. This allowed the bill reach the floor with a simple majority.

Economists warned that a default would be devastating for the world economy if it was not stopped by the Senate. The House is not in session this week. However, it must pass the measure to prevent the U.S. Treasury from defaulting on October 18.

This vote ended the drama that had been days. Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell had promised not to assist Democrats with solving the crisis, claiming they control all government levers and did not include enough GOP lawmakers in spending bill discussions.

“We pulled our country back from the cliff’s edge that Republicans tried to push us over,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY.

Nancy Pelosi (House Speaker) said members may be called back for voting. If a request for an extension is received, President Joe Biden indicated that he will sign it.

“The president looks forward to signing legislation to raise the debt limit when it is passed by Congress,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday. 

It does not postpone a long-term decision regarding the debt limit. For Congress to prevent another default risk, it would have to pass a debt limit resolution by December. 

If the United States defaults on its debt for the first time, the results could lead to a global recession, Treasury officials and experts said. A down market will affect 401(k),s and other investments. The economy lost 1% of its GDP in 2013 due to a debt ceiling dispute.

Tuesday’s Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican from Kentucky) rescinded his threat of blocking any action regarding the debt ceiling.

McConnell offered to extend the limit into December if Democrats put a precise dollar figure on how much they want to raise the limit. Republicans had threatened to filibuster Democrats’ effort to suspend the limit through Dec. 16, 2022.

McConnell was elated Thursday by the Senate floor’s temporary extension.

He stated that the path his Democratic counterparts have chosen will not cause any immediate crisis for Americans.

McConnell and Republicans have resisted Democrats passing an increase or suspension to the debt limit. McConnell said Democrats, who control the White House, House and Senate, refused to negotiate with Republicans on spending proposals – such as a budget bill with trillions of dollars for social programs that Democrats are ironing out – so they could raise the limit on borrowing on their own as well. 

The Senate GOP leader pressed Democrats to pass the bill using reconciliation, a maneuver that would allow Democrats to approve the bill without Republican support. Democrats said this option would be cumbersome and lead to long debates. 

McConnell said Thursday that he wanted reconciliation for the bill to proceed. He said the short-term extension means “there will be no question” that lawmakers will have plenty of time to address the debt limit through that procedure.

The Senate Democrats stated Wednesday that they will not bow to McConnell’s December demand. 

“We’re going to raise the debt ceiling, and we’re going to go on and pass infrastructure,” Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said. “We are not going to achieve reconciliation.” 

Keep reading at USAToday.com

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