WASHINGTON, D.C. — After months of political gamesmanship on the part of MAGA Republicans that caused unnecessary economic anxiety across the land, the United States Senate followed up on a vote in the House and passed a clean, bipartisan bill on Thursday night in a vote of 63 to 36 that extends the nation’s borrowing limit, ending the threat of a disastrous government default.
The bill, which imposes spending caps and cuts wanted by the House Republicans, will now go to President Biden for his signature.
The deal would suspend the $31.4 trillion borrowing limit until January 2025 and cut federal spending by $1.5 trillion over a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office, effectively freezing some funding that had been projected to increase next year and then limiting spending to 1 percent growth in 2025. The legislation would also impose stricter work requirements for food stamp recipients, cut back some funding for IRS enforcement and officially end Biden’s student loan repayment freeze issued during the Covid pandemic crisis.
The vote will be paraded around politically by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as a victory since he managed to get the president to invite him to the White House for negotiations and obtain cuts in federal spending, although the bill that passed only contained mostly symbolic spending cuts that progressive Democrats didn’t like. But the consequences for the national and global economy was so dire that only the most radical right-wing Republicans and a few Democrats on the left voted against the legislation in the Senate.
Republicans began threatening a standoff over the debt ceiling after narrowly winning a majority in the House in November, creating a political showdown with the president and Democrats largely to make symbolic political points.
For months the president refused to engage with McCarthy, agreeing with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen that the credit of the country should not be used as a political bargaining chip, but finally invited the California Republican to the White House for talks after he managed to pass a Republican fiscal plan in April.
“I continue to strongly believe that the full faith and credit of the United States must never be used as a bargaining chip,” Secretary Yellen said in a statement issued Thursday night after the Senate passed the bill.
President Biden praised the vote, promising to sign the measure as soon as possible and address the nation from the Oval Office on Friday evening.
“Tonight, senators from both parties voted to protect the hard-earned economic progress we have made and prevent a first-ever default by the United States,” he said. “No one gets everything they want in a negotiation, but make no mistake: This bipartisan agreement is a big win for our economy and the American people.”
Just as they did in the House, Democrats carried the legislation to passage in the Senate, with 44 Democrats and two independents joining 17 Republicans in voting for the bill, while 31 Republicans and only four Democrats and one independent voted against it.
The agreement allows the government to borrow unlimited amounts to pay its debts for the next two years, assuring that another debt fight will not take place before the next presidential election.
“We saved the country from the scourge of default,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said after the bill cleared Congress.
It sets new spending levels that will be tested as Congress begins to write its annual spending bills. Other policy changes on energy project permitting and work requirements on social benefits were also included to the consternation of Democrats.
Republican critics complained that it under-funds the Pentagon.
The House approved the measure 314-117 with more Democrats backing the bill than Republicans.
“From the beginning of this manufactured crisis, Democrats have been committed to doing what is responsible — preventing a catastrophic default and protecting the services Americans rely on,” Democratic Whip Katherine Clark of Massachusetts said in a statement after the House vote. “We upheld that commitment.”
“MAGA Republicans forced a lose-lose proposition onto the American people,” she said: “devastating cuts or a devastating default. It’s clear they don’t care what happens to everyday families, as long as the GOP can keep playing its political games.”
There is no perfect negotiation when you’re the victim of extortion, she said.
“But under the leadership of President Biden, we fought for core Democratic priorities and won, protecting Social Security, Medicare, climate resiliency, veterans’ benefits, and health care. We stood with our veterans, seniors, and families — because we will always put people over politics.”
Some Democrats and environmentalists bashed the deal for approving a gas fracking pipeline from West Virginia to Virginia wanted by Senator Joe Manchin, the conservative Democrat who seems to get whatever he wants these days in Washington.
He has floated a trial balloon of an independent run for president in 2024, but nobody believes he will do it. It is a political stunt to keep conservatives in West Virginia from ousting him from the Senate when he runs for reelection. Nearly 69 percent of West Virginians voted for Trump in 2020, Trump’s second strongest state next to Wyoming.
Original story HERE.