US Congress averts historic default, approves debt-limit suspension
02/06/2023 09:06, Washington/United States

(TAP) - The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed bipartisan legislation backed by President Joe Biden that lifts the government's $31.4 trillion debt ceiling, averting what would have been a first-ever default.

The Senate voted 63-36 to approve the bill that had been passed on Wednesday by the House of Representatives, as lawmakers raced against the clock following months of partisan bickering between Democrats and Republicans.

The Treasury Department had warned it would be unable to pay all its bills on June 5 if Congress failed to act by then.

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, adding that he will sign it into law as soon as possible. He said he would make an additional statement on Friday at 7 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT).

Biden was directly involved in negotiations on the bill with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

While this bitter battle has ended, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell wasted no time flagging the next budget fight.

"In the coming months, Senate Republicans will continue working to provide for the common defense and control Washington Democrats' reckless spending," he said in a statement.

McConnell was referring to 12 bills Congress will work on over the summer to fund government programs in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, which will also carry out the broad instructions of the debt limit bill.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, meanwhile, issued some pointed advice saying, "I continue to strongly believe that the full faith and credit of the United States must never be used as a bargaining chip," as Republicans did over the past several months.

Before the final vote, senators tore through nearly a dozen amendments - rejecting all of them during a late-night session in anticipation of Monday's deadline.

With this legislation, the statutory limit on federal borrowing will be suspended until Jan. 1, 2025. Unlike most other developed countries, the United States limits the amount of debt the government can borrow, regardless of any spending allocated by the legislature.

"America can breathe a sigh of relief," Schumer said in remarks to the Senate.

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