Chris Lange, FISM News
The Senate passed the debt ceiling bill late Thursday with only days to spare before a predicted likely default next week.
The legislation cleared the chamber in a bipartisan 63-36 vote and was sent immediately to the president’s desk. Thirty-one Republicans, three Democrats, and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) voted against the bill.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) hailed the bill’s passage from the Senate floor.
“By passing this bill we will avoid default tonight. America can breathe a sigh of relief,” Schumer said, as reported by The Hill. “For all the ups and downs and twists and turns it took to get here, it is so good for this country that both parties have come together at last to avoid default,” he said.
McConnell lauded the legislation as a Republican victory.
“I think [House] Speaker McCarthy should be congratulated on capturing a number of priorities,” he said. “So, we’ve gone from one party spending $2.7 trillion in two years to a discussion about actually reducing government spending,” he continued, referring to the amount of new spending approved in 2021 and 2022 when Democrats controlled the House.
“So, I think the American people’s decision to change House has already yielded benefits for our country,” he added.
President Biden said that he looked “forward to signing [the] bill into law as soon as possible” in a statement released immediately after the vote. He also thanked Schumer and McConnell for their efforts to clinch the bill’s passage.
“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 said. He added that he looked forward to “speaking to the American people directly” on Friday.
The Senate rushed through votes on 11 proposed amendments to the bill late Thursday, none of which were approved. Among those rejected were Republican-backed border security provisions and the rescission of approval for a natural gas pipeline in West Virginia proposed by Democrats, Fox News reported.
I will be voting no on the debt limit deal because you do not do deficit reduction on the backs of Americans who are already struggling. pic.twitter.com/IJgn6lvom1
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) June 1, 2023
GRAHAM THREATENED TO HOLD UP VOTE WITHOUT DEFENSE SPENDING ASSURANCES
Among the dozens of Republican senators who voted against the legislation were Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Senate Republican Conference Committee Chair John Barrasso (Wyo.)
At one point during floor debate on the legislation, Schumer and McConnell were both forced to give assurances to Graham that the bill would not limit defense spending after the South Carolina Republican vowed to hold up the vote until he got them.
Speaking directly to Schumer, Graham declared: “Don’t tell me that a defense budget that’s $42 billion below inflation fully funds the military.” Several GOP Senators voiced similar objections, arguing that the meager 3% increase in defense spending in the first year of the deal could pose national security risks.
I will not relent until I have assurances that the damage being done to the defense budget can be minimized by a supplemental.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) June 1, 2023
Meanwhile, the four lawmakers on the other side of the aisle who voted against the bill — Democrat Sens. John Fetterman (Pa.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), and Sanders — objected to non-defense discretionary spending caps and enhanced work requirements for federal food assistance, among other things.
Thursday’s vote was the culmination of weeks of rancorous debate among party hardliners that included a threat to McCarthy’s speakership from some fiscal conservatives in the House.