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Senate labors to stave off US default, wrap up Biden-McCarthy debt ceiling deal

by Chloe Baker
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debt ceiling package

Senate Labors to Stave Off US Default, Wrap Up Biden-McCarthy Debt Ceiling Deal

The Senate is working diligently to prevent a U.S. default as it strives to finalize a debt ceiling and budget cuts package that overwhelmingly cleared the House. The goal is to send the bill to President Joe Biden for it to become law before the approaching deadline. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated that the chamber is actively reviewing the bill negotiated by Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy and emphasized their commitment to completing the task. Schumer warned about potential amendments from senators looking to modify the bill’s budget cuts and environmental policy changes, but he emphasized the need to avoid unnecessary delays.

Bipartisan Cooperation Required for Senate Passage

Passing the bill in the Senate will require cooperation between Democrats and Republicans, much like the compromise achieved in the narrowly divided House late Wednesday night. Swift action is crucial to meet the looming deadline set by the Treasury, which warns that the U.S. will soon face a shortage of funds to cover its obligations, risking a devastating default. While some senators who were not heavily involved in the Biden-McCarthy negotiations are pushing for debate on their proposed changes to the package, making amendments at this stage appears unlikely. Even opponents of the final deal have indicated that they will not obstruct its progress. Although there were hopes for votes on Thursday night, no voting schedule has been set.

McConnell and Biden Support Swift Senate Action

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, echoing Schumer’s sentiment, emphasized the importance of prompt action. McConnell praised the House package with its budget cuts and expressed his desire to turn that progress into reality through Senate approval. While the hard-fought compromise did not satisfy everyone, lawmakers recognized it as a preferable alternative to potential economic turmoil if Congress failed to act. The House witnessed tensions as hard-right Republicans rejected the deal, but Biden and McCarthy managed to gather a bipartisan coalition, resulting in the package’s passage with a robust 314-117 vote.

Reactions and Next Steps

Following the vote, McCarthy stated, “We did pretty dang good.” Although some Republicans expressed discontent with the spending restrictions, McCarthy emphasized that this compromise was just the first step. Biden, who monitored the vote from Colorado Springs, reached out to McCarthy and other congressional leaders after the vote, considering the outcome “good news for the American people and the American economy.” The White House immediately began contacting individual senators to secure their support.

Concerns and Amendments

One issue that emerged was Republican senators’ complaints about insufficient military spending in the deal, especially considering the anticipated need for supplemental spending to support Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. Several Republicans stressed the importance of safety and security, expressing disappointment with their colleagues in the House. The 99-page bill includes spending restrictions for the next two years, suspends the debt ceiling until January 2025, and introduces various policy changes. These changes involve implementing new work requirements for older Americans receiving food aid and approving an Appalachian natural gas line opposed by many Democrats. The bill also allocates additional funds for defense and veterans, reduces new funding for Internal Revenue Service agents, and rejects Biden’s proposal to roll back tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy.

Conclusion and Congressional Dynamics

Raising the debt limit, currently at $31.4 trillion, is essential to ensure that the Treasury can borrow money to pay off existing U.S. debts. Conservative Republican senators have proposed amendments to further reduce spending, while a Democrat seeks to remove the approval for the gas pipeline, among other proposed changes. However, the likelihood of these amendments being approved remains low. Negotiators have worked tirelessly to strike a deal with the White House, and McCarthy has spent days garnering support among skeptics. McCarthy faced opposition from conservatives aligned with the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, who criticized the compromise for not sufficiently reducing spending. Some

What is the purpose of the Senate’s work on the debt ceiling and budget cuts package?

The purpose of the Senate’s work is to prevent a U.S. default by finalizing a debt ceiling and budget cuts package. The goal is to send the bill to President Joe Biden for it to become law before the approaching deadline.

What is the significance of bipartisan cooperation in passing the bill?

Bipartisan cooperation is crucial for the bill’s passage in the Senate. Just like in the House, Democrats and Republicans need to work together to approve the compromise. Without bipartisan support, there is a risk of delays or potential obstruction, which could have severe consequences for the country’s financial stability.

What are some of the key provisions in the debt ceiling and budget cuts package?

The package includes spending restrictions for the next two years, suspends the debt ceiling until January 2025, and introduces various policy changes. These changes involve implementing new work requirements for older Americans receiving food aid, approving an Appalachian natural gas line, allocating additional funds for defense and veterans, reducing new funding for Internal Revenue Service agents, and rejecting Biden’s proposal to roll back tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy.

How does the bill address concerns raised by Republicans and Democrats?

The bill aims to address concerns from both sides. While some Republicans expressed discontent with the spending restrictions, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer emphasized the need to avoid unnecessary delays. Democrats had complaints about changes to the food aid program and environmental policy, but compromises were made to exempt veterans and homeless individuals from work requirements and accommodate differing views on the gas pipeline.

What happens if the bill does not pass in the Senate?

If the bill fails to pass in the Senate, it could lead to a U.S. default, risking economic upheaval at home and abroad. The Treasury has warned that without prompt action, the U.S. will soon face a shortage of cash to pay its bills. It is essential for lawmakers to act swiftly to avoid such a devastating outcome.

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