Senate passes debt limit bill with 63-36 vote, allowing U.S. to avoid default

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said that he will keep the Senate in session until a bill raising the debt limit is passed. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI

June 1 (UPI) — The U.S. Senate has passed legislation suspending the debt limit and imposing new spending caps, allowing the United States to avoid defaulting for the first time.

The measure, which required 60 votes to be sent to the desk of President Joe Biden, passed despite four Democrats and Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, voting “no.”

There were 17 Republicans that joined the majority of Democrats in voting for the legislation, including Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

Other Republicans that voted for the legislation included Sens. John Cornyn of Texas, Susan Collins of Maine, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah.

“We saved the country from the scourge of default,” Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said.

Schumer said the legislation was passed despite some Republicans, he claimed, wanting to lead the country to default.

Democrats and Republicans had been at an impasse for weeks before a deal was struck between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, allowing the legislation to pass the lower chamber.

Senators sped through votes on a list of amendments on the legislation in the 11th hour.

Schumer, D-N.Y., had vowed to keep the Senate in session until the bill could be sent to Biden’s desk and set 10-minute limits on votes on amendments.

The Senate has until June 5 to pass a debt ceiling bill to avoid a default, which most experts say would be economically catastrophic for the nation and globally.

The upper chamber agreed to vote on 11 amendments, which were all expected not to reach the 60-vote threshold and fail, before considering the final bill.

“I want to remind members we were indulgent in the first vote. That’s over. We’re doing 10-minute votes,” Schumer said, according to The Hill.

“Please stay in your seats so we can finish this bill in a reasonable hour.”

After the vote on the first of the amendments, Schumer and McConnell, R-Ky., released a joint statement that was entered into the record.

“This debt ceiling deal does nothing to limit the Senate’s ability to appropriate emergency supplemental fund to ensure our military capabilities are sufficient to deter China, Russia and other adversaries,” Schumer announced.

Earlier in the day on Thursday, Schumer had called any “last-minute holdups” or changes to the bill “entirely unacceptable.”

The House of Representatives passed the Fiscal Responsibility Act on Wednesday night, with 314 representatives voting in favor of the deal. Seventy-one Republicans and 46 Democrats voted against the measure.

“Tonight, we’re gonna vote for the largest savings in American history, over $2.1 trillion,” McCarthy said on Wednesday. “This is going to save families money and make America less dependent on China, changing America for the better for decades to come.”

Despite the bill’s passage, some Senators have voiced their displeasure with the bill.

Sanders, D-Vt., issued a statement Wednesday night, calling the bill “totally unnecessary” and promising to vote against it.

Sanders blasted the bill for making “it easier for fossil fuel companies to pollute,” for spending “more on the military than the next 10 nations combined,” for allowing the pharmaceutical industry to charge “the American people the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs” as Sanders claimed more than “45 million Americans are drowning in student debt.”

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., wants to get rid of a provision that would speed up approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline natural gas pipeline that would run through West Virginia and Virginia.

Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul has called for across-the-board spending cuts over the next two years.

According to The Hill, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has called for an increase in defense spending.

McConnell himself also criticized the 1% increase in defense spending in the bill, saying it is not enough.

“I think that’s the worst part of the deal,” McConnell said Wednesday, according to ABC News.

“The defense buildup — which we began in December — peters out and then it’s only up slightly but more than domestic. So, I don’t think it’s as good as I would like, but if you look at the totality of the agreement, I think it should be supported and our defense needs will still be there.”


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