The Senate on Thursday advanced a bill that is designed to allow Democrats to raise the U.S. debt limit on their own, as Washington works to avert a default.
Fourteen Senate Republicans joined Democrats in advancing legislation that sets up a simple-majority vote on the debt limit. Earlier this week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said he was confident enough GOP senators would back the process.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives passed the legislation paving the way for a simple-majority debt-limit increase on Tuesday. The debt deal was tied to other legislative language preventing cuts to Medicare.
After final passage in the Senate and enactment by President Joe Biden, Congress will be able to move ahead on a separate bill lifting the borrowing limit, including a dollar amount. That measure would be able to pass since Democrats control the Senate with 50 members, and Vice President Kamala Harris may cast tie-breaking votes. Votes on raising the debt limit could come next week, ahead of a key deadline.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has urged lawmakers to act by Dec. 15. The votes come amid sparring over President Joe Biden’s massive social-spending plan, and Republicans are eager to paint Democrats as fiscally irresponsible as next year’s midterm elections loom.
Democrats “want to create even more inflation on their own. So, as Republicans have made clear for months, they will have to own a debt ceiling increase as well,” McConnell said on Wednesday.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said his party wants to pass the debt-limit increase “to pay the debts we have already incurred, just like any household must do.” Schumer and McConnell had weeks of talks over the debt-limit deal.
Democrats plan to pay for Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan, meanwhile, through a new corporate minimum tax and raising taxes on high-income Americans.
U.S. stock indexes
on Thursday traded mixed, despite a better-than expected report on those seeking unemployment benefits insurance, which carved out a new pandemic-era low.