Final push in the US Senate to suspend the debt ceiling

The US Congress, May 31, 2023

The US Senate is racing against time on Thursday to again confirm a suspension of the debt ceiling and thus avert the impending default of the world’s leading economy.

“The Senate will remain in session until we get a text passed,” Democratic leader Chuck Schumer promised.

He did not rule out the possibility of a vote this weekend.

Like almost all major economies, America lives on credit. But unlike other developed countries, the United States regularly encounters a legal constraint: the debt ceiling, the maximum amount of its debt that Congress must officially raise or suspend.

– Hard negotiations –

The Republicans, who have held a majority in the House of Representatives since January, have turned this routine legislative procedure into a tool of political pressure against Democratic President Joe Biden – which has led to endless negotiation sessions that have been widely commented on from all over Washington.

The two parties finally reached an agreement with the pliers that should make it possible to avoid the worst: the country’s coffers will be empty on June 5 and there is a risk that the United States will default.

This unprecedented situation would throw the American financial world and economy, but also the international economy, into the unknown.

To avoid this potentially catastrophic scenario, Democratic President Joe Biden and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy made this compromise.

The agreement was approved by a large majority of elected members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday evening. And now requires Senate approval.

Specifically, the text allows the United States to suspend its debt ceiling of currently $31,400 billion for two years, i.e. until after the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2024.

In exchange, Democrats agreed to limit some spending, but not as much as Republicans wanted.

– “Not the luxury of waiting” –

“The deal passed last night by the House of Representatives is an encouraging step towards fiscal consolidation, but make no mistake, there is still work to be done,” said Senate Republican tenor Mitch McConnell.

When he asked his colleagues to confirm the deal, several conservative senators have already announced that they would reject the text.

The compromise is a major bone of contention for the left and includes changes to the conditions for receiving certain welfare benefits.

“I cannot, in my soul and conscience, vote for a bill that harms workers,” said influential Senator Bernie Sanders.

For now, however, congressional staff are confident that the 99-page text will be adopted. In fact, it is very common for this type of file to be compromised at the last minute.

But “the Senate doesn’t have the luxury of waiting,” stressed Chuck Schumer.


Andrea Hunt

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