The US Congress has approved a deal to lift the country’s borrowing limit, days before the world’s largest economy is due to default on its debt.
The bipartisan measure sped through the Senate by a vote of 63-36, a day after it cleared the US House of Representatives. In Thursday night’s session, the bill passed with support from 44 Democrats and 17 Republicans, plus two independents.
Sixty votes were required to approve the measure in a 100-seat chamber that Democrats only narrowly control. Thirty-one Republicans were opposed, including a member of the party’s leadership in the chamber, John Barrasso.
Among the four Democrats who voted against were left-wing senators Bernie Sanders, John Fetterman and Elizabeth Warren.
Senators first proposed 11 amendments to the debt ceiling bill, but they were all rejected in quick order, paving the way for a final vote.
Agreement on US debt default “a big win for our economy”, says Biden
President Joe Biden has said he will enact the measure into law. His signature on the bill will spare the US from a catastrophic default on its $31.4tn debt.
Biden praised Congress’ timely action. “This bipartisan agreement is a big win for our economy and the American people,” the Democratic president said in a statement. He said he would make an additional statement on Friday.
The country is forecast to overshoot its current debt ceiling on Monday 5 June. The Treasury Department had warned it would be unable to pay all its bills on June 5 if Congress failed to act by then.
“America can breathe a sigh of relief, a sigh of relief because in this process we are avoiding default,” Democratic Majority leader Chuck Schumer told the Senate.
Schumer touted the Democrats’ role in the debt ceiling agreement after the Senate passed the bill.
“We may be a little tired, but we did it,” Schumer said. “So we’re very, very happy. Default was the giant sword hanging over America’s head, but because of the good work of President Biden, as well as Democrats in the House and Democrats in the Senate, we are not defaulting.”
In a rare display of bipartisanship, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told reporters he would be “proud to support it without delay”.
The measure passed the House by a wide margin – 314 to 117 – on Wednesday.
Suspending the debt limit through 2025 takes the threat of default off the table until after the presidential election.
In addition to addressing the debt limit, the bill caps non-defense spending, expands work requirements for some food stamp recipients and claws back some Covid-19 relief funds, among other policy provisions.