Joe Biden hails ‘big win’ as bipartisan debt ceiling bill reaches his desk
The bipartisan bill to solve the US debt ceiling crisis just days before a catastrophic and unprecedented default was on its way to Joe Biden’s desk on Friday as the US president prepared to address the nation and hailed “a big win for our economy and the American people”.
The compromise package negotiated between Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy passed the US Senate late on Thursday.
Biden acknowledged that it leaves neither Republicans nor Democrats fully pleased with the outcome. But the result, after weeks of torturous negotiations, shelves the volatile debt ceiling issue until 2025, after the next presidential election.
“No one gets everything they want in a negotiation, but make no mistake: this bipartisan agreement is a big win for our economy and the American people,” Biden tweeted after the Senate voted 63 to 36 to pass the deal agreed between Biden and McCarthy last weekend, which passed the House on Wednesday.
The final Senate vote capped off a long day that ground into night, where lawmakers spent hours considering amendments to the legislation. All 11 of the proposed amendments failed to gain enough support to be added to the underlying bill.
Several of the amendments were introduced by Senate Republicans who expressed concern that the debt ceiling bill passed by the House did too little to rein in government spending.
“Tonight’s vote is a good outcome because Democrats did a very good job taking the worst parts of the Republican plan off the table,” the Senate majority leader, Democrat Chuck Schumer, said after the vote.
As part of the negotiations over the bill, McCarthy successfully pushed for modest government spending cuts and changes to the work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Programs. Those changes were deemed insufficient by 31 Republican senators, who echoed the criticism voiced by the 71 House Republicans who opposed the bill a day earlier.
The Senate minority leader, Republican Mitch McConnell, supported the bill, even as he acknowledged that lawmakers must take further action to tackle the federal government’s debt of more than $31tn.
Senate Democrats lobbied against certain provisions in the bill, namely the expedited approval of the controversial Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline. Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat of Virginia, introduced an amendment to remove the pipeline provision from the underlying debt ceiling bill, but that measure failed alongside the 10 other proposed amendments.
Refusing a once routine vote to allow a the nation’s debt limit to be lifted without concessions, McCarthy brought Biden’s White House to the negotiating table to strike an agreement that forces spending cutbacks aimed at curbing the nation’s deficits.
“The fact remains that the House majority never should have put us at risk of a disastrous, self-inflicted default in the first place,” said Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat. “We should prevent the debt ceiling from being used as a political hostage and stop allowing our country to be taken up to the edge of default.”