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Senate launches late-night votes to stave off US default, wrap up Biden-McCarthy debt ceiling deal

by Andrew Wright
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debt ceiling deal

Title: Senate Launches Late-Night Votes to Stave Off US Default and Wrap Up Biden-McCarthy Debt Ceiling Deal

Subtitle 1: Urgent Action to Prevent U.S. Debt Default

The Senate is taking swift action on Thursday night to pass a debt ceiling and budget cuts package in order to prevent a U.S. debt default. The package, negotiated by President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy, is expected to be sent to Biden’s desk to become law before the impending deadline. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has scheduled a late-night floor debate on nearly a dozen amendments to the package, although it is unlikely that any of them will be approved or significantly alter the overall deal.

Subtitle 2: Cooperation Needed to Secure Passage

Passing the debt ceiling and budget cuts package in the Senate will require cooperation between Democrats and Republicans, similar to the compromise reached in the narrowly divided House late Wednesday night. Prompt action is crucial to meet the upcoming deadline on Monday, as the U.S. Treasury has warned that the country will start running short of funds to pay its bills, risking a devastating default.

Subtitle 3: Various Perspectives and Amendments

While the Biden-McCarthy negotiations were ongoing, several senators who had been largely on the sidelines are now seeking to introduce their ideas to reshape the package. Conservative Republican senators are proposing amendments to further reduce spending, while a Democrat aims to remove a controversial natural gas pipeline from the deal. Defense hawks express concerns that military spending, though increased in the agreement, is not sufficient, especially considering the additional funding required to support Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.

Subtitle 4: Unlikely Changes and Key Agreement

Although making changes to the package at this stage seems unlikely, even opponents of the final deal have stated that they will not obstruct its passage. To address concerns about military spending, senators secured an agreement from Schumer that the debt ceiling deal would not limit the Senate’s ability to approve emergency supplemental funds for national security purposes, including aid to Ukraine.

Subtitle 5: McConnell’s Support and Bipartisan Coalition

After the bill was overwhelmingly approved in the House, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell signaled his intention to expedite its passage. McConnell highlighted the budget cuts included in the agreement, stating that the Senate has an opportunity to turn this progress into reality. Despite not fully satisfying anyone, the hard-fought compromise garnered support from lawmakers who deemed it better than the alternative of economic upheaval if Congress failed to act. Biden, in a statement, referred to the outcome as “good news for the American people and the American economy.”

Subtitle 6: Package Details and Criticisms

The 99-page bill restricts spending for the next two years, suspends the debt ceiling until January 2025, and includes various policy changes. Some of these changes involve implementing new work requirements for older Americans receiving food aid and approving an Appalachian natural gas line that many Democrats oppose. The bill also allocates more funds for defense and veterans, reduces new funding for Internal Revenue Service agents, and rejects Biden’s proposal to roll back Trump-era tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy to address the nation’s deficits.

Subtitle 7: Opposition and Concerns

While the compromise pleased few in its entirety, the speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, acknowledged that it was only a “first step.” Some Republicans expressed discontent, arguing that the spending restrictions did not go far enough. Democrats raised concerns about the work requirements for older Americans, changes to the National Environmental Policy Act, and the approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. However, despite these objections, the bill received a robust 314-117 vote in the House, with bipartisan support.

Subtitle 8: CBO Analysis and White House Engagement

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the spending restrictions in the package will reduce deficits by

What is the purpose of the Senate’s late-night votes and debt ceiling deal?

The purpose of the Senate’s late-night votes is to pass a debt ceiling and budget cuts package in order to prevent a U.S. debt default. This deal aims to provide the necessary funds and address the nation’s financial challenges, ensuring that the government can meet its financial obligations and avoid economic upheaval.

Why is fast action needed to meet the upcoming deadline?

Fast action is needed to meet the upcoming deadline because the U.S. Treasury has warned that the country will start running short of cash to pay its bills. Failure to act could lead to a devastating default, causing significant economic consequences at home and abroad. By acting swiftly, lawmakers can prevent this scenario and maintain financial stability.

What amendments are being proposed by senators and what are their chances of approval?

Several amendments are being proposed by senators, including additional spending cuts and the removal of a controversial natural gas pipeline from the package. However, it is unlikely that these amendments will be approved or significantly alter the overall deal at this stage. The focus is on passing the negotiated package to meet the deadline and avoid a default.

How does the compromise address concerns from various perspectives?

The compromise package includes provisions that address concerns from different perspectives. For example, it increases funds for defense and veterans while also imposing new work requirements for older Americans receiving food aid. Additionally, an agreement was reached to ensure that the debt ceiling deal does not restrict the Senate’s ability to approve emergency supplemental funds for national security, including aid to Ukraine.

What are the main criticisms and objections raised regarding the debt ceiling deal?

Criticism and objections vary among lawmakers. Some conservatives argue that the spending restrictions do not go far enough, while Democrats express concerns about the work requirements for older Americans, changes to environmental policies, and the approval of a controversial natural gas pipeline. However, despite these objections, the bill received bipartisan support as lawmakers deemed it a necessary step forward compared to the consequences of inaction.

What impact will the debt ceiling deal have on the nation’s finances and priorities?

The debt ceiling deal aims to restrict spending for the next two years, suspend the debt ceiling until January 2025, and includes various policy changes. It allocates funds for defense and veterans, reduces funding for Internal Revenue Service agents, and rejects the rollback of certain tax breaks. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the deal will reduce deficits by $1.5 trillion over the decade. However, concerns and debates persist regarding the balance between fiscal responsibility and supporting essential programs and services.

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