Senate majority leader confirms deal to raise debt ceiling and avoid default

‘It’s our hope that we can get this done as soon as today,’ Schumer said.

Eric Garcia
Thursday 07 October 2021 18:57
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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the Senate had reached an agreement on the debt ceiling, which would prevent the United States from defaulting on its loans, the consequences of which would be dire for the US economy.

Mr Schumer on the Senate floor that the deal would extend the debt limit until 3 December.

“It’s our hope that we can get this done as soon as today,” Mr Schumer said.

The announcement comes after a weeks-long standoff between Democrats and Republicans, who each have 50 seats in the Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris being the tiebreaker, on the debt limit.

Republicans had initially pledged not to raise the debt limit, citing additional spending by Democrats, and last month the GOP filibustered legislation that would have kept the government open and raised the debt limit.

The Senate later passed a continuing resolution to keep the government open.

This irritated Democrats, who said most of the previous spending was racked up when Donald Trump was president and accused Republicans of playing politics by flirting with a default. As a means of getting around the impasse, President Joe Biden expressed openness to a potential change to the Senate’s filibuster rules to ensure that the debt limit could be lifted.

But the two parties seemed closer to an agreement on Wednesday afternoon, which led to Mr Schumer’s announcement on Thursday morning.

“Why kick the can down the road?” asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki repeatedly at Wednesday afternoon’s news briefing.

At a press gaggle on Thursday aboard Air Force 1, deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed that Mr Biden would sign the deal, and indicated that the battle in December would look similar to the past few days as Democrats sought to pressure GOP senators with the potential of default if they do not back down.

Previously, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell raised the prospect of using budget reconciliation to allow for a debt ceiling increase. But Mr Schumer rebuffed the idea, saying there was not enough time to craft a reconciliation bill before the US ran out of options to avoid a default.

After it looked like there would be a deal, Senate Democrats were reported to be celebrating, with Sen Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts saying “McConnell caved”.

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