The U.S. Congress on Tuesday approved raising the federal government’s debt limit by $2.5 trillion, to about $31.4 trillion, sending the bill to President Joe Biden to sign and avert an unprecedented default. The passage follows a months-long standoff between Democrats and Republicans, with the latter seeking to force Biden’s party to raise the debt limit on its own from the current $28.9 trillion level, generating fodder for attack ads during the 2022 congressional elections.
A deal last week between Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and his Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell, set the stage for Tuesday’s vote, bypassing normal Senate rules requiring at least 60 of the chamber’s 100 members to agree to advance most legislation. The Senate passed the bill earlier on Tuesday in a partisan 50-49 vote.
Under the unusual deal worked out by Schumer and McConnell, and approved by both chambers last week, legislation raising the debt ceiling could be passed this one time in the Senate by a simple majority, which meant Democrats could get it through on their own.
It remains unclear if congressional Democrats will be able to meet Schumer’s other goal, passing Biden’s sweeping $1.75 trillion bill to bolster the social safety net and fight climate change by Christmas. Deep disagreements within the party on the size and scope of the package have stalled that effort.