Senate votes to suspend debt ceiling, avoid default

Senators concluded voting late into the night on a crucial debt limit bill Thursday, preparing it to go to President Joe Biden's desk for a signature.
Posted at 8:50 PM, Jun 01, 2023

A deal for where the U.S. debt limit will move, for now, could be ready for President Joe Biden's desk soon.

Senators wrapped up voting late on Thursday night preparing the legislation to be ready for the president by Friday. 

Senate leaders announced they had come to an agreement to pass a bill on the debt ceiling by Thursday evening to be sure the U.S. would not default on its debt. 

The Cotton Amendment to HR 3746 on Fiscal Responsibility was agreed to. Senators continued to debate late into Thursday night, with limited time. "Let's finish the job," Majority leader Sen. Chuck Schumer urged. 

Sen. Schumer confirmed leadership had come to a place where it promised to pass the legislation by Thursday night, officially by vote, as he called on his colleagues in Congress to act quickly as they voted.

Multiple senators insisted on debating amendments to the bill. Republican senators proposed changes to cut spending further and a Democrat fought to remove a controversial natural gas pipeline project from the package. 

Debates on military spending also dominated concerns about language in the legislation.  

On Wednesday, the House voted by a 314–117margin in favor of H.R. 3746, which, if signed into law, would raise the debt limit for two years and cut spending on some discretionary programs.

That legislation was placed in the Senate's hands as they began voting and debating Thursday night. 

The 99-page bill reins in spending for the next two years and will suspend the debt limit until January 2025. It will also change some policies, including requiring older Americans receiving food aid to work. 

At least 11 senators were scheduled to be allowed to vote on amendments, with both sides locked into an agreement to pass legislation by Thursday night to avoid a default. That meant lawmakers in the Senate would have to debate and vote on 11 amendments, making it uncertain how late into the night the session on the Senate floor would go as Sen. Schumer announced the rules. 

The Senate began voting on the amendments at 7:30 p.m. ET. 

Although the bill got the support of a majority of both Republicans and Democrats in the House, Schumer acknowledged that not everyone was completely happy with it.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California speaks.

How Biden and McCarthy struck a debt-limit deal

It was crucial for President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's negotiators to work out an agreement to avoid a default.