Senate leaders agree to vote quickly on debt agreement

It locks in plans to send the bill to the president's desk well before the Monday default deadline.

The Senate has reached an agreement to vote on Thursday night the bipartisan budget and debt ceiling agreement. This will ensure that the billwill be sent to the President’s desk before Monday, the default deadline.

In exchange, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed to vote 11 amendments which are expected to fail. The two also submitted a joint statement to the record of the Congress regarding demands by defense hawks, such as a supplemental bill for defense and the processing of annual appropriations. Senate Republicans spent Thursday wringing their hands over the defense spending levels that they deem to be far too low.

The agreement signifies that the Senate will finish working on the bill well before the weekend, and before the financial markets open Friday.

By passing this bill, we will avoid defaulting tonight. “America can breathe a huge sigh,” Schumer said.

A vote on the deal would have been delayed until next week if all 100 senators had not agreed.

This puts the bill on track again after defense hawks threw in some drama at the last minute, demanding that Schumer commits to a stand-alone, supplemental spending bill as well as promise to take up all twelve annual appropriations as a condition to moving quickly.

Graham and others worry that the budget agreement’s cap on defence spending will hinder U.S. commitments towards Ukraine and other allied countries without a supplemental. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), said he wanted written assurances that a plan would be included with funding bills to include a supplement. Congress has not passed all 12 appropriations measures on time since 1996.

Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said, “We want the commitment.” “We want to see a public declaration that [Schumer] is going to do the supplemental and the approps in a timely manner.”

The House’s 314-117 vote in favor of the debt limit agreement created an air of certainty in the Senate. This eased the way to an agreement, which would allow the bill pass quickly and be sent to President Joe Biden.

The supermajority will be easily met despite the defections of liberal and conservative senators. One example is Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), a member of the Democratic Party who led efforts to encourage President Joe Biden to invoke the 14th Amendment in order to avoid a bipartisan deal, announced Thursday that she would support the legislation.

The bill would increase the debt ceiling to 2024, install budget caps for two years, increase the work requirements on government benefit, remove some IRS funding that was included in the Democrats’ party line legislation from last year, and approve the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which runs from West Virginia into Virginia. Sen. Timkaine, D-Va., is unhappy that the bill will force approval of the project. He hopes to have his amendment vote that removes the pipeline provision.

Schumer insists that despite the agreement to allow amend votes to accelerate passage, the Senate can’t make any changes to the House Bill at this late time. This would almost certainly result in the Treasury Department missing its Monday deadline.

Every day counts, given the low Treasury coffers as well as the external risk that could damage the country’s rating. Standard & Poor’s lowered the United States’ credit rating in 2011 after Congress passed legislation to raise the debt ceiling.

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