The Senate approved the bipartisan dealThursday evening, sending it directly to Joe Biden days before the default date and bringing an end to months of drama.
Defense hawks in the upper chamber demanded that Senate leaders issue a written commitment not to block supplemental funding for defense and consideration of appropriations. The upper chamber saw its own twists and turns after defense hawks demanded a written statement from Senate leaders committing not to block supplemental defense funding and consideration of appropriations bills.
The upper chamber passed the bill 63-36 about 24 hours after it was approved by the House 314-117. This is a good sign of bipartisanship in both chambers. Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., was the only Senator who did not vote late on Thursday night. He said he was at his son’s graduation.
Before the vote in the House, Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and the White House spent weeks negotiating a bill that would raise the debt ceiling to 2024, and reduce spending. This was a condition Republicans demanded for raising the borrowing limit.
McCarthy was able to lead the Republican side in the talks with the White House because Senate leaders were largely absent from the discussion.
In an interview, Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin said that it took a great deal of work and positioning. “I must give President Biden, and especially his negotiators, the highest praise. “I think that at this stage, we feel the final product is as good as it could be.”
Although the majority leader Chuck Schumer agreed to allow amendments to the bill, he had made it clear that any changes would send the measure back to House and ensure the tipping of the nation into default. The Senate did not have a chance to pass any of the amendments, but the senators were able to vent their frustrations and gain some political cover.
This time it wasn’t only conservatives who demanded amendment votes. Sen. Timkaine, D-Va., was angry that the bill contained a provision for the Mountain Valley pipeline to be built through his state. Kaine’s amendment was voted on, but failed. He then supported the final passage of the legislation.
The bill would increase the debt ceiling to Jan. 1, 2025. It would also require more work on federal safety-net programs, impose budget caps for two years, and remove some IRS funding that was included in the party line legislation passed by Democrats last year.
Senate defense hawks were infuriated by the budget caps, which would cap national defense spending to $886 billion as proposed by the administration for fiscal 2024. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., demanded that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell provide written assurances about a plan including a stand-alone, supplemental bill regarding defense funding.
Before voting started, the two leaders of each party made this statement. Schumer stated on the Senate floor that, after negotiating with Republicans, he was able to make sure the bill would not limit efforts to pass emergency assistance packages for Ukraine and other urgent needs.
Graham stated Thursday that “we’re not going to leave town leaving a question mark regarding our commitment to defeating Putin.” “I believe the idea of a supplement to address our needs in defense, help Taiwan with Israel’s issues, and help Ukraine – when I see this as a reality, that won’t solve all the problems but will make me feel a lot better.”