scorecardThe Senate passes the bipartisan debt ceiling bill, sending it to Biden's desk just days before the US defaults
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The Senate passes the bipartisan debt ceiling bill, sending it to Biden's desk just days before the US defaults

Lauren Steussy,Ayelet Sheffey   

The Senate passes the bipartisan debt ceiling bill, sending it to Biden's desk just days before the US defaults
PolicyPolicy2 min read
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) (L) and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (R).    Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • The Senate made surprising progress Thursday night on the debt ceiling bill, passing it 63 to 36.
  • The bill now heads to President Joe Biden's desk, where it will be signed into law.

President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy's debt ceiling bill just cleared its final major hurdle.

On Thursday night, the Senate voted to pass the Fiscal Responsibility Act by a vote of 63-36, sending it to Biden's desk just days before the US could default as early as June 5. The House easily passed the bill on Wednesday with a bipartisan vote of 314-117, even after facing opposition from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who were unhappy with the compromises both McCarthy and Biden made in the final legislation.

The bill includes about $1.5 trillion in spending cuts, according to the Congressional Budget Office, with provisions to add new work requirements on federal programs like SNAP and codify the end of the student-loan payment pause.

"President Biden and Speaker McCarthy's agreement will protect the economy and eliminate the threat of a catastrophic default," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote on Twitter ahead of the vote. "I support this bipartisan agreement. Nobody's getting all they want — but it takes default off the table and protects key investments we've made."

Leading up to the votes, a number of Democratic senators were unhappy with a range of provisions in the bill. Sen. Bernie Sanders, for example, released a statement on Wednesday explaining why he could not "in good conscience" vote for the bill, even with the country facing default.

"Deficit reduction cannot just be about cutting programs that working families, the children, the sick, the elderly, and the poor depend upon," Sanders said. "It must be about demanding that the billionaire class and profitable corporations pay their fair share of taxes, reining in out-of-control military spending, reducing the price of prescription drugs, and ending billions of dollars in corporate welfare that goes to the fossil fuel industry and other corporate interests."

And while other Democratic lawmakers agreed with Sanders' points, they felt a default on the nations' debt would be worse than passing the bill. Sen. Elizabeth Warren told Politico that "we have to weigh the consequences of default against the pain that Republicans are trying to impose on hungry Americans, students, our climate and the Republicans' constant enthusiasm for protecting billionaire tax cheats."

Now the legislation heads to Biden's desk, where he will sign the bill into law to suspend the debt ceiling through January 2025. Biden wrote on Twitter on Thursday that "thanks to good faith negotiations, we reached a reasonable, bipartisan budget agreement that protects our historic economic gains and prevents a first-ever default."




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