The Senate approved the debt ceiling package by an overwhelming majority from the House of Representatives on Wednesday evening.
The upper house of Congress could easily step on the gas pedal and try to coordinate with the House of Representatives and pass the bill late Thursday or early Friday morning. However, it is possible that the process could extend into Friday, if not all of the weekend.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s negotiators earlier this week reached an agreement with the White House to raise the debt limit and reduce some spending — though the restrictions were far less sweeping than many in the Republican Party had wanted.
The Senate has just a few days to consider it, before June 5 — the date Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the US could default on its debt obligations if lawmakers didn’t act in time.
Now comes the hard part: getting the debt ceiling agreement through Congress
The timing of passage by the Senate will depend on the sides being able to agree on a timeline, what changes, if any, are appropriate, and the amount of time available for debate.
Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rand Paul, R-Ky. would like to make alternative proposals and will likely be given speaking time. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., may request an amendment to the permit and the Mountain Valley Pipeline. There are a number of other proposed changes.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., did not directly respond yesterday when asked if he would consider changes to the bill. Schumer merely stated that the bill could not be changed. If changes are made, the bill must be sent back to the House of Representatives. That’s impractical in this scenario, unless the country flirted with reaching the debt ceiling.
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What often occurs in this scenario is that the Senate forges an agreement on the consideration of a sentence or amendments or on senator speaking time. If a senator requests a roll-call vote on their amendment, part of the pact is to subject the amendment to a 60-vote acceptance threshold. This usually ensures that the Senate does not agree to a particular change and thus alters the bill.
The Senate must also reach 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.
It will take time to piece together an agreement for debate and amendment. Also, it will take a lot of time to actually discuss and vote on the amendments, but drafting an agreement that will finalize the bill tonight or overnight is out of the question.
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If the opponents also engage, they could interrupt the passage the old-fashioned way with long-winded speeches and refuse to back down. Or senators could ask the Senate to burn hours of procedural time and postpone it to the weekend.
However, there seems to be an interest in the Senate finalizing this sooner rather than later, before the weekend.
Once the Senate passes the bill, the House and Senate agree. The measure then goes to the President for signature.
After the deal was announced, Biden said the bill “represented a compromise, meaning nobody got everything they wanted.”
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The bill would keep non-defense spending roughly stable in fiscal 2024, increase it by 1% the following year, and provide for a two-year increase in the debt ceiling.
The agreement would expand some work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. It would raise the age for existing work requirements from 49 to 54, similar to the Republican proposal, but those changes would expire in 2030. The White House said it would simultaneously reduce the number of vulnerable people — including veterans and people who are homeless — of any age to which the requirements apply.
Fox News’ Bradford Betz contributed to the coverage
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