The Senate late Thursday evening passed a measure to raise the federal government’s debt limit by $480 billion through early December, preventing the nation from defaulting on its debts, all while putting a band-aid on the economic fiasco for Congress to revisit once again in another eight short weeks.
The vote was 61-38, with the majority of Senate Republicans opposed, but 11 GOPs, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), broke ranks to help Democrats provide the 60 votes needed to end debate on cloture and breaking the filibuster to advance for the final passage.
The ten other GOPs who voted to help Democrats break the filibuster were Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Shelley Moore-Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine, John Cornyn of Texas, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Richard Shelby of Alabama, and John Thune of South Dakota.
Shortly after the procedural motion passed the 60-vote threshold, the Senate voted on the final passage on the measure that only needed Democratic votes to advance. The final vote in passing the short-term emergency extension of the debt limit was a vote of 50-48 along party lines. Only two Republican Senators missed the vote — Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Richard Burr of North Carolina.
The vote for the short-term measure caps of weeks-long drama standoff on the debt ceiling for the time being, as the Senate kicked the issue down the road for a massive showdown to early December; coincidently at the same time, the Senate has to take up a measure to avoid a government shutdown as the short-term stop-gap measure also expires on Dec. 3.
McConnell on Wednesday offered Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) a short-term deal to ensure the federal government does not default on its financial obligations on Oct. 18 and give the majority party time to use the reconciliation process, the same process Democrats are planning to use for their spending measures to bypass the 60-vote threshold in the upper chamber on hiking the debt limit.
“Republicans remain the only party with a plan to prevent default. We have already made it clear we would assist in expediting the 304 reconciliation process for stand-alone debt-limit legislation. To protect the American people from a near-term Democrat-created crisis, we will also allow Democrats to use normal procedures to pass an emergency debt limit extension at a fixed dollar amount to cover current spending levels into December,” McConnell said in a statement on Wednesday.
“This will moot Democrats’ excuses about the time crunch they created and give the unified Democratic government more than enough time to pass stand-alone debt limit legislation through reconciliation. Alternatively, if Democrats abandon their efforts to ram through another historically reckless taxing and spending spree that will hurt families and help China, a more traditional bipartisan governing conversation could be possible,” McConnell added.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen repeatedly warned Congress that they have until Oct. 18 before Treasury exhausts its cash reserves, cautioning that a default could have a “catastrophic” impact on the economy and financial markets.
Despite Schumer taking the deal, he berated GOP in his remarks on the Senate floor following the cloture vote, a speech that angered many Republicans, including moderate Democrats Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who was seen buried his head in his hands at times during the Senate Majority leader’s speech.
“Despite immense opposition from Leader McConnell and members of his conference, our caucus held together, and we have pulled our country back from the cliff’s edge that Republicans tried to push us over,” Schumer said.
However, the offer from McConnell caused some discontent amongst Republicans in his caucus. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) described the deal early Thursday morning as “capitulation,” while Sen, Ted Cruz (R-TX) declaring that the Democrats were on a “path to surrender” until, unfortunately, McConnell and “Republicans blinked.”
Prior to the Senate vote, former President Trump implored Republicans to oppose voting on raising the debt ceiling, urged his party to “stand strong.”
“Republican Senators, do not vote for this terrible deal being pushed by folding Mitch McConnell. Stand strong for our Country. The American people are with you!” Trump said in a statement only minutes before the first procedural vote.
On Hannity Thursday evening, Trump slammed McConnell for making a deal with Democrats.
“The Republican Senate needs new leadership,” Trump told Hannity. “I’ve been saying it for a long time. Mitch is not the guy. He’s not the right guy. He’s not doing the job. He gave them a lifeline. It’s more than a lifeline. He gave them so much time now to figure out what to do because they were in a real big bind. They wouldn’t have been able to do anything. He had the weapon, and he was unable to use it, and it’s a shame.”
The measure must now be approved by the House, in which the lower chamber has scheduled Tuesday to vote on this only measure before making its way to President Biden’s desk. The House is expected to vote on the measure next Tuesday, giving Biden just a little time to sign the bill into law before the Oct. 18 deadline.