The Senate passed a short-term debt limit increase along party lines Thursday evening, a move that would give the Treasury Department at least a couple of months before it once again bumps up against its legal borrowing cap.
The 50-48 vote sent the bill to the House, where that chamber will need to clear the measure before it heads to President Joe Biden.
That vote, likely next week, could be tricky given GOP opposition to the short-term patch and Democrats in that chamber barely backing a longer suspension of the debt limit late last month.
The Senate amended the House bill, which passed 219-212, replacing a longer debt ceiling suspension with a $480 billion increase in Treasury’s borrowing cap designed to last into early December. However, it may go a little longer.
The key vote was cloture, where there was some uncertainty earlier in the day that Republican leaders would be able to muster the 10 votes needed on their side to get to the 60-vote threshold.
The pact was based on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s offer to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday to break the logjam with time dwindling before Treasury’s stated Oct. 18 deadline. The deal met a key GOP demand to raise the debt limit by a specific dollar amount rather than suspending it.
But it nonetheless left many Republicans, most of whom signed an August letter vowing not to raise the debt ceiling, frustrated.
“I don’t understand why we are folding here,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham. “For two months Republicans have been saying Democrats want to spend $3.5 trillion without any Republican input. If they are going to do that, they need to raise the debt ceiling on their own. This is just a mistake.”
After the meeting, Sen. Ted Cruz told reporters that he believed McConnell’s offer was a “mistake.”
The bill now goes to the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues Thursday that “if it is necessary for Members to return early,” Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer“will give sufficient notice as promised.”