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Senate passes bill paving way to raise debt ceiling, avoid default

Dec 10, 2021


President Biden is expected to sign a bill that would allow the Senate to bypass the filibuster one time only in order to raise the debt ceiling ahead of a potential default. The bill passed in the Senate Thursday, after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) got 14 Senate Republicans to break a filibuster and advance the bill to a vote.

“I believe we’ve reached here a solution to the debt ceiling issue that’s consistent with Republican views of raising the debt ceiling for this amount at this particular time and allows the Democrats to proudly own it,” Sen. McConnell said. The deadlock had been caused by Republicans saying they wouldn’t support standalone debt ceiling legislation, and Democrats saying they wouldn’t use reconciliation to raise the debt ceiling.

Once President Biden signs the bill, the Senate and House are expected to take up actually raising the debt ceiling early next week. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the debt ceiling needs to be raised by next Wednesday, or the United States could run out of money to pay its bills. For months now, Yellen has been warning about the devastating effects of the U.S. defaulting for months. The U.S. credit rating would likely be downgraded, interest rates on loans would soar and a recession would likely happen. Payments to seniors, veterans and others could also be delayed or even stopped starting next Wednesday.

“This is the responsible path forward,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said. “No brinksmanship, no default on the debt, no risk of another recession.”

A key aspect of Thursday’s agreement is that when raising the debt ceiling, Democrats will have to vote on a specific amount by which the debt ceiling will be lifted. The amount has not yet been disclosed.

Republicans want to try to blame Democrats for the nation’s rising debt load, and link the raising of the debt ceiling to Biden’s Build Back Better Act (BBBA). However, their argument ignores the fact that the debt ceiling will have to be raised whether or not the BBBA makes it through Congress.

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