Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently warned that the debt limit could be reached on December 15th, otherwise the US would suffer financial catastrophe and endure its first-ever default. Now Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have reached an agreement to create a one-time process that would let Democrats raise the debt ceiling on their votes alone, a deal that underscores the lengths the GOP leader will go to avoid a damaging default without Republican support to increase the national borrowing limit.
The House took the first step to implement the plan on Tuesday by voting to pass new legislation that will set up the debt limit process. The final vote was 222-212. GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois was the only Republican to join Democrats in voting for the bill. The measure will now need to be taken up by the Senate.
The new legislation, if advanced with 60 votes in the Senate, would create a temporary fast-track process to allow Senate Democrats to act on their own to increase the debt limit with 51 votes. The legislation outlines that Congress would have to specify the exact dollar amount of a new national debt limit, which is just above $30 trillion. The fast-track process would expire after January 15th.
🚨🚨Here’s the text of the legislation which would allow the senate to lift the debt limit with a simple majority this time around
This language is embedded in a bill to push off Medicare cuts, as we reported this am. pic.twitter.com/AReXbhYTLG
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) December 7, 2021
Since 60 votes are needed to break a filibuster in the 50-50 Senate, 10 GOP votes ultimately are needed to advance any new legislation. McConnell believes that Republicans would be more willing to vote to create a new process on the debt ceiling, rather than raise the debt limit itself, but he’s facing pushback from some of his colleagues who believe he’s giving in too quickly to Democrats. Several key Senate Republicans signaled Tuesday they would support the proposal, backed by McConnell, to create an expedited legislative process by which Democrats could raise the debt ceiling without GOP votes.
During his career, Mitch McConnell has voted 32 times for a total of $20.7 trillion of debt limit increases, including all 11 times under George W Bush and Trump.
— (Italian) Bamboo cryptologist (@TinResistAgain) October 12, 2021
Under the plan, both the House and Senate would first have to pass the bill to create the one-time process that allows Senate Democrats to act alone on the debt limit. After that, the House and Senate would then have to take a second set of votes to actually increase the debt limit.
The new legislation, which will be taken up by the House first, will be folded into a more popular bill to prevent cuts to Medicare — making the fast-track process bill easier for Republicans to vote for.
Optimism from Senate leaders on raising the debt limit.
Leader McConnell said he’s confident he’ll get the 10 Republicans he needs to pass a bill that would lay the groundwork for Democrats to raise the debt limit on their own. pic.twitter.com/57AIaF3LkC
— Rachel Scott (@rachelvscott) December 7, 2021
The new process would ensure the debt ceiling legislation cannot be amended and would be immediately considered by the Senate. Debate would be limited to 10 hours. Once approved, the debt limit hike would be sent to the House. McConnell predicted on Tuesday that there will be enough GOP support to pass the bill in the Senate. “I’m confident this particular procedure coupled with the avoidance of Medicare cuts will achieve enough Republican support to clear the 60-vote threshold,” he said.
.@EWarren on the Schumer-McConnell debt limit agreement: "This is an exception to the filibuster. And the Republicans have just signed on. It's proof that it's possible to create exceptions to the filibuster and move forward when it's important."
"Do it once, let's do it twice."
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) December 8, 2021