WASHINGTON – The Senate passed a bill Thursday night that would raise the debt ceiling by two years, and create a budget agreement for two years on a bipartisan basis.
The vote was 63 to 36.
has already cleared the House, and now it goes to Joe Biden. He is expected to sign this bill, preventing an economic catastrophe due to a default on Monday.
After a long stalemate, and a frenetic few weeks s , the agreement was reached by Biden, a Democrat and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The President will speak to the nation about the bill at 7 pm. ET Friday.
“America can breath a sigh relief.” We are avoiding default, said Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “Default would have catastrophic consequences.”
Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) championed the legislation as “an important and urgent step in the right directions — for the health and future of our nation.”
The final Senate vote was held after 11 amendements were considered – a demand made by several senators to have the bill voted on quickly. All of the amendments rejected. This agreement allowed the Senate skip a number of hurdles which could have pushed the U.S. beyond the June 5, debt ceiling deadline without unanimous consent. The senators wanted to get out of town for the long weekend and speed up the process.
The extension of the debt ceiling does not authorize new spending. It allows the U.S. government to pay off existing debts, which both parties have accrued over the years by demanding higher spending for domestic and military programs as well as reduced taxes.
The bill, once it is signed into law will cap the spending for the next 2 years. It will include a modest reduction in non-military expenditures and a modest increase in defense spending. The bill includes conservative measures that will claw back $28 billion of unspent Covid funds, eliminate $1.4 million in IRS funding, and overhaul the permit process for energy projects.
The bill will resume federal student loan repayments following a long “pause” which began early in this pandemic. It would also impose Work Requirements on people under 55 to receive benefits from the Supplemental Food Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF). Currently, there are work requirements for those up to 50. SNAP and TANF have made changes that include exemptions for homeless people, veterans and adults aged up to 24 who are aging out from foster care.
The Biden-McCarthy Agreement would not change Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.
Schumer celebrated Thursday night the bill as a Democratic victory, noting that it was backed by more Democrats than Republicans in both chambers.
Schumer thanked his colleagues for their good work. “I commend the President Biden’s team for achieving a sensible compromis under difficult circumstances. Many of the Republican bill’s destructive provisions are now gone.
McConnell, on his part, praised McCarthy for acting first, passing a law that “avoids catastrophic consequences of default, and begins to curb Washington Democrats addiction to reckless expenditure that increases our nation’s debt.”
Liz Brown-Kaiser, Kate Santaliz and Kate Brown-Kaiser contributed.