Senate Approves Temporary Lift to Debt Ceiling, Averting Default

The Senate on Thursday approved legislation to temporarily raise the federal government’s $28.4 trillion debt limit and avoid the risk of a historic default later this month, but it put off until early December a decision on a longer-lasting remedy. The Senate voted 50-48 to pass the bill following weeks of partisan fighting.

The $480 billion increase to the current $28.4 trillion debt limit is expected to be exhausted by Dec. 3, the same day that funding for most federal programs also expires under a stop-gap measure passed earlier this month following another partisan standoff.

That means that over the next eight weeks, the bitterly divided Congress will have the twin challenges of finding a middle ground on agency spending through September 2022 — ranging from education and foreign aid programs to immigration enforcement and airport security — and avoiding yet another debt limit meltdown.

The vote followed a months-long standoff bringing the nation close to the Oct. 18 date that the Treasury Department forecast it would no longer be able to meet its obligations.

“Republicans played a dangerous and risky partisan game and I am glad that their brinksmanship did not work,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said after the vote.

The Senate-passed bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to be approved. It was unclear how quickly the House might act. 

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