Debt Ceiling Deal Heads to Senate; Timeline Unclear

June 1, 2023

The Senate is racing against a four-day deadline to pass the debt ceiling bill, but as of Thursday morning it was unclear when they would vote.

Senate leaders Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have indicated that they’d like to vote as early as Thursday. However, it would take an agreement from all 100 Senators to do so as any one of them could delay the action. 

The House of Representatives on Wednesday night voted 314 to 117 to pass the deal that was brokered over the weekend by President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) with 16 more Democrats than Republicans voting in favor of it.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that without lifting the debt ceiling, the government will completely run out of money and default on its financial obligations on Monday.

McConnell said Wednesday he believes the Senate could wrap up an agreement, which is expected to include six amendments—most from Senate Republicans—rather swiftly.

That’s after a warning from Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) last week that the Senate might need the entire weekend because conservatives would try to hold up final passage. He’s expected to roll out a number of amendment proposals Thursday, though he does not expect a vote on all of them.

The brokered bipartisan 99-page deal suspends the debt ceiling beyond next year’s presidential election into 2025. At least one conservative Senator—Rand Paul of Kentucky—has said he wants a vote on an alternative plan that would lift the debt ceiling for a shorter period and cut the budget by hundreds of billions of dollars.

Despite having conceded to reporters that he knows his bill would fail, he wants a vote on it anyway.

Along with McConnell, other Republicans have said they’re “bullish” about getting the deal passed.

Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the Senate Minority Whip, said Tuesday that he expects at least nine GOP Senators will support it in the chamber that’s split 51 to 49.

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) expects the Senate will wrap its work by Friday. “That’s the dream, at least,” he said. 

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