Senate Passes Debt Limit Bill, Biden to Sign It Today
WASHINGTON – Suddenly it seems there’s nothing left to talk about but the weather.
After weeks of talks and amid mounting concerns that the nation might actually default on its debts for the first time in history, the Senate on Thursday night fast-tracked approval of the debt ceiling bill, sending it on to the White House for President Joe Biden’s signature.
In the end, the vote in the Senate was 63-36, and as happened in the House, it was the chamber’s Democrats who gave the measure the push it needed for passage.
In the end, 44 Democrats, joined by 17 Republicans and two independents — Sens. Angus King of Maine and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — voted in favor of the package, which not only suspends the debt ceiling through Jan. 1, 2025, but caps spending for the next two years.
Thirty-one Republicans, five Democrats and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont voted against it.
Attention now turns to the White House on what is forecast to be the hottest day of the year in D.C., with clear skies and temperatures in the 90s.
Biden is expected to sign the bill this afternoon and then address the nation from the Oval Office tonight, when he will discuss the bipartisan effort that averted default before the June 5 deadline set by the Treasury Department.
In a written statement issued by the White House last night, Biden said, “Senators from both parties voted to protect the hard-earned economic progress we have made and prevent a first-ever default by the United States.
“Together, they demonstrated once more that America is a nation that pays its bills and meets its obligations — and always will be. I want to thank [Senate majority] leader Schumer and [Senate minority] leader McConnell for quickly passing the bill,” he continued, adding “No one gets everything they want in a negotiation, but make no mistake: this bipartisan agreement is a big win for our economy and the American people.”
The Senate vote came after closed-door talks Thursday afternoon to resolve concerns raised by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and others that the proposed spending caps and other claw backs in the package would leave the Defense Department with threadbare funding.
To mollify the dissenters, Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., reportedly committed to advancing pending appropriations bills in a timely fashion.
The talks concluded with a statement from Schumer and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., saying the “debt ceiling deal does nothing to limit the Senate’s ability to appropriate emergency supplemental funds to ensure our military capabilities are sufficient to deter China, Russia, and our other adversaries.”
For his part, Graham said while he wasn’t completely satisfied with the bill, the talks had been “a march in the right direction.”
With that, all that was left was a series of fast votes on amendments that guaranteed to fail due to the fact no one, not even opponents of the measure, wanted the bill to have to be returned to the House for a vote that couldn’t possibly occur before a default happened.
“We saved the country from the scourge of default,” Schumer declared after the final vote.