Senate OKs debt ceiling legislation, averting default

  • The Senate approved a deal suspending the nation's debt limit
  • The legislation now goes to President Joe Biden to sign
  • Congress faced a June 5 deadline to avoid default

(NewsNation) — The Senate approved legislation Thursday night to suspend the nation’s debt limit for two years, averting a federal default days before the Treasury Department said it would run out of money to pay its bills.

The bill’s passage came after a rapid-fire string of votes on nearly a dozen amendments that all failed. It now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

The measure garnered bipartisan support, with a block of about a dozen Republicans joining Democrats voting in favor of the legislation that sets caps on discretionary spending through 2025. It also adds stricter work requirements for food stamps, claws back unused COVID-19 funds, includes energy permitting reform and ends the federal pause on student loan repayments.

“Let’s finish the job,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said after announcing a late-night floor schedule setting up final passage.

“We’ve saved the country from the scourge of default,” he said after the vote.

Having remained largely on the sidelines during much of the Biden-McCarthy negotiations, several senators were insisting on debate over their ideas to reshape the package. Conservative Republican senators proposed amendments to further cut spending, while a Democrat sought to remove a controversial natural gas pipeline from the package.

None of the amendments had been expected to pass.

Defense hawks complained that military spending, though boosted in the deal, was not increased enough — particularly as they eye supplemental spending that will be needed this summer to support Ukraine in the war against Russia.

“We need safety and security,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “To my House colleagues, I can’t believe you did this.”

Biden said in a statement following passage that senators from both parties “demonstrated once more that America is a nation that pays its bills and meets its obligations — and always will be.”

He said he would sign the bill into law as soon as possible. “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 president said. The White House said he would address the nation about the matter at 7 p.m. EDT Friday.

The House had approved the deal brokered between Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday.

During debate on the bill, McCarthy insisted his party was working to “give America hope” as he launched into a late evening speech extolling the bill’s budget cuts, which he said were needed to curb Washington’s “runaway spending.”

His Democratic counterpart, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, said his party would “continue to put people over politics.”


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