Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Thursday that a deal was reached to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a nationwide default.
The deal hikes the debt ceiling by $480 billion, allowing the government to pay its bills through early December and giving lawmakers more time to raise the ceiling after extreme partisan gridlock killed any agreement on the pivotal issue.
“We have reached agreement to extend the debt ceiling through early December, and it’s our hope that we can get this done as soon as today,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. (RELATED: Congress Barrels Toward Debt Ceiling Catastrophe As Dems, GOP Dig In)
The agreement was reached less than a day after Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a compromise that allowed Democrats to raise the ceiling until December under regular order. McConnell has long-insisted that Democrats use the reconciliation process to lift the ceiling, which Democrats still refuse to do.
“The Senate is moving toward the plan I laid out last night to spare the American people from an unprecedented crisis,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Thursday. “The pathway our Democratic colleagues have accepted will spare the American people any near-term crisis.”
The Senate originally planned to vote on a House-passed debt ceiling bill Wednesday before McConnell’s announcement, an effort that was certain to fail given Republicans’ ability to filibuster. The agreement now sets up a vote on the one-page bill as soon as Thursday if all 100 senators consent to speeding up the process, the last day before their planned weeklong recess.
Without agreement, however, the bill would be voted on Saturday, meaning that 10 Republicans would have to join Democrats in voting to overcome a filibuster before a vote on final passage.
The short-term extension means that lawmakers will embark on another likely grueling debt ceiling fight at the beginning of the holiday season. Congress last Thursday also passed a continuing resolution that keeps the government open until Dec. 3, meaning that the two critical tasks will likely coincide as they did throughout much of September.
Congress has until Oct. 18 to lift the ceiling, according to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and could face unprecedented economic disaster if they fail to do so.
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