The Senate fired up debate Tuesday on raising the debt limit to nearly $31 trillion as Democrats race to clear the increase before the United States risks an economically devastating default.
The chamber voted 50-49 along party lines midday to open debate, with passage expected to follow Tuesday evening. Senate Democrats are able to advance the measure on their own, through simple-majority votes, thanks to the bipartisan accord Minority Leader Mitch McConnell struck with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
House Democrats are then expected to quickly clear the legislation for President Joe Biden’s signature, as soon as Tuesday night, saving the Treasury Department from fully exhausting its ability to pay interest on the nation’s $29 trillion in loans — an economic crisis that could hit as soon as Wednesday.
“Responsible governing has won on this exceedingly important issue,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “The American people can breathe easy and rest assured there will not be a default.”
The measure would increase the debt limit by $2.5 trillion, a sum expected to last into 2023 without the need for another vote to raise the borrowing cap. That would get Democrats through the midterm elections next year before having to hike the ceiling again.
While Schumer noted that action to raise the nation’s borrowing cap “is about paying debt accumulated by both parties,” Republicans continue to characterize the debt limit increase as a way for Democrats to facilitate more deficit spending, which GOP lawmakers say will drive further inflation.
“Washington Democrats’ printing, borrowing and spending addiction is directly hurting American families,” McConnell said on the floor Tuesday. “They want to respond to a stunning inflation report by printing, borrowing and spending trillions upon trillions more on new entitlements and far-left programs.”
The Kentucky Republican pinned responsibility for raising the country’s borrowing limit on his counterparts across the aisle. But the minority leader helped facilitate the debt limit increase by offering enough Republican support to grant Democrats a one-time reprieve from the filibuster to allay the debt issue, a measure that passed the Senate with 14 GOP votes last week.
“Later today, every Senate Democrat is going to vote on party lines to raise our nation’s debt limit by trillions of dollars,” McConnell said. “If they jam through another reckless taxing-and-spending spree, this massive debt increase will just be the beginning.”