Senate Democrats and Republicans reached a deal on Thursday to avert a default on U.S. debts until early December, but it remains to be seen how many GOP lawmakers will fall in line.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer announced a deal with GOP leaders to raise the federal debt ceiling by $430 billion. The sum will be enough to ensure the federal government can continue borrowing the money needed to meet expenditures, including Social Security and troop salaries, until at least Dec. 3.
“We have reached an agreement to extend the debt ceiling through early December,” said Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat.
The deal was offered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell shortly before Republicans were planning to block legislation to suspend the debt ceiling until December 2022.
It ends a months-long showdown over the debt ceiling just before Oct. 18, the deadline by which Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the government will run out of money to pay its bills.
“The pathway our Democratic colleagues have accepted will spare the American people any near-term crisis,” said Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican.
The GOP leader has clarified the deal is a one-time-only measure to prevent a default.
Further increases, Republicans pledge, will have to be done unilaterally by Democrats via budget reconciliation. The process allows specific spending and tax measures to avert the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold and pass with a simple majority.
“All year the Democratic government has made unprecedented and repeated use of reconciliation to pass radical policies on party-line votes,” said Mr. McConnell. “For two and a half months, the Democratic leaders did nothing and then complained that they were actually short on time. The majority didn’t have a plan to prevent default, so we stepped forward.”
A vote on the debt limit increase could take place later Thursday. At least 10 Senate Republicans will have to vote to advance the increase to overcome the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster hurdle.
Some Republicans have already ruled out providing votes to help Democrats avert a default, even in the short term.
“If Democrats want an expedited process to use reconciliation to raise the debt limit they can have it,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the top Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee. “However, if Republicans intend to give Democrats a pass on using reconciliation to raise the debt limit – now or in the future – that would be capitulation.”