Wednesday, October 4, 2023
HomeEconomyU.S. Senate aims to quickly pass debt ceiling bill to avoid default

U.S. Senate aims to quickly pass debt ceiling bill to avoid default

By Richard Cowan and David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate will consider a bill on Thursday to Raise the government’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling, with only four days left to pass the measure and send it to Democratic President Joe Biden for signature, avert disaster Sexual breach.

Top Democrat Republican lawmakers vow to do whatever it takes to speed up the bill Biden and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy negotiated that would suspend the debt ceiling until Jan. 1,2025 in exchange for spending caps.

It remains to be seen whether any members of their respective caucuses, especially hard-line Republicans who are angry that the bill did not include deeper spending cuts, will use the arcane Senate rule to try to slow spending along its passage.

The Treasury Department has warned that it will not be able to pay all of its June 5 bills if Congress does not act.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed the bill Wednesday evening on a 2011-51 vote. McCarthy lost the support of dozens of his fellow Republicans.

“Once this bill reaches the Senate, I will act as quickly as possible,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday.

His opponent, the Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell also said he would push for fast passage, saying, “I would be proud to support it without delay.”

– Predominance controls the Senate. House rules require 51 votes to advance most legislation, meaning at least nine Republican votes are needed to pass most bills, including the debt ceiling deal.

The measure faces opposition from the right, with some Republicans angry that spending cuts aren’t deep enough, and some Democrats on the left who oppose imposing new job requirements on some anti-poverty programs. But most lawmakers admit they cannot stomach the prospect of an early default.

Schumer and McConnell worked behind the scenes to dissuade opponents from setting up procedural hurdles that would delay passage.

Usually on important, contentious bills like this one, the two Senate leaders find a way to only allow a pair of rebel senators from each side to bring them up under the fast track process Amendment because they know they will lack the votes to pass.

“Unless you want to spend the weekend here, I think some of us are going to need to vote on their amendments,” said Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 in the House. Republicans.

Any changes to the bill in the Senate at this stage would mean it would have to go back to the House for final passage, a delay that could make the first U.S. government default a reality.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who often seeks such last-minute amendments, told CBS News Wednesday that he will not use congressional process to delay action.

But another Republican, Mike Lee, has said he may try to slow down. On Wednesday, he vowed to vote against the bill but did not reiterate his threat to try to delay it. Lee condemned House GOP negotiators for agreeing to what he viewed as a weak compromise with Democrats, “with Republicans like that, who needs Democrats?”

The bill was pieced together during weeks of intense negotiations between Biden and a surrogate for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The main point of contention is spending over the next few years on “discretionary” programs such as housing, education and medical research that Republicans want to slash, while seeking to increase funding for the military, veterans and possibly border security.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates savings of $1.5 trillion over years. That was below the $4.8 trillion savings goal Republicans proposed in a bill that passed the House in April, and below the $3 trillion deficit that Biden’s proposed budget would have reduced by then through new taxes.

The last time the US was this close to a default was at 2011. The impasse hammered financial markets, led to the first downgrade of the government’s credit rating and pushed up the country’s borrowing costs.

A default would have wide-ranging financial consequences, triggering a recession that would affect everyone from the poor dependent on government assistance to the elderly looking to Social Security retirement, and even those with large stock and bond portfolios Wealthy Wall Street investors.



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