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Senate Approves Raising Debt Limit to $31.4 Trillion, Sends Measure to House to Avoid Default [VIDEO]

Senate Approves Raising Debt Limit to $31.4 Trillion, Sends Measure to House to Avoid Default [VIDEO]

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday approved raising the federal government’s debt limit by $2.5 trillion, to about $31.4 trillion, and forwarded the measure to the House of Representatives to avoid an unprecedented default. The House will also need to approve the bill before sending it to President Joe Biden for his signature.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and his Republican counterpart, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, met last week to set the stage for Tuesday’s vote, ignoring the filibuster and bypassing normal Senate rules requiring at least 60 of the chamber’s 100 members to agree on most legislation. The 50-49 party-line vote follows a months-long stalemate, with the GOP seeking to force Democrats to raise the debt limit from the current $28.9 trillion level on its own, manufacturing new material to use for attack ads during the 2022 congressional elections.

The increase is needed in part to cover debt incurred during Donald Trump’s administration, when the debt rose by about $7.85 trillion, partly through sweeping tax cuts and spending to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had urged Congress to hike the debt limit before Wednesday.

Sen. Schumer said the increase would take borrowing into 2023, through the November 8th midterm elections that will determine control of Congress. Under the unusual deal worked out by Schumer and McConnell, and approved by both chambers last week, legislation raising the debt ceiling could be passed this one time in the Senate by a simple majority, which meant Democrats could get it through on their own.

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Rachel Maddow wondered why Congress doesn’t do this more often.

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