What to Know in Washington: Debt Bill Headed to Biden’s Desk

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The Senate passed legislation to suspend the debt ceiling and impose restraints on government spending through the 2024 election, ending a drama that threatened a global financial crisis.

The measure now goes to President Joe Biden, who forged the deal with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and plans to sign it just days ahead of a looming US default.

The 63-36 vote on the bill was carried by moderates in both parties, many of whom aired their misgivings about parts of the deal but were convinced that their concerns weren’t worth risking the havoc a default would unleash.

Photographer: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg

A hard-fought compromise reached after weeks of private talks and public finger-pointing, the legislation is a rarity in a highly polarized Washington where dealmaking has become a lost art form.

Getting it through the Senate Thursday night took hours of negotiations between the two parties, with independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) shuttling between Republicans lunching on the second floor of the Capitol and Democrats on and off the Senate floor.

Ultimately, they settled on allowing uncharacteristically speedy votes on 11 amendments — all of which failed — and a pair of statements from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) aimed at soothing concerns about defense spending levels and other potential cuts.

Schumer made it clear that the Senate could bypass the spending caps in the bill for Ukraine, defense, and domestic priorities using emergency funding, though the Republican-controlled House would have to concur.

Senate passage ends the worst standoff over the US debt in a dozen years. But it comes at some political cost for Biden and McCarthy, who have taken fire from lawmakers on their respective party’s flanks who insist too much was given away in the negotiations. Steven T. Dennis, Erik Wasson, Jarrell Dillard and Zach C. Cohen tally up the final vote.

More on the Debt Deal Finale

The Political Center Flexed on the Debt Bill, It Might Not Last

While lawmakers on each flank railed against the bill, a broad majority between the political poles gritted their teeth and passed it. But the deal appears unlikely to become a template for more compromises in a bitterly divided era.

Swing-Seat House Members Minus Santos Voted for Debt Bill

Nearly all House Republicans who represent districts carried by Biden played it safe by backing debt ceiling legislation, siding with McCarthy without the risk of alienating voters who helped put a Democrat in the White House.

Senate Fails to Strip Manchin Pipeline Deal From Debt Bill

An amendment to strip language from the debt ceiling bill expediting approval of a multi-billion-dollar natural gas pipeline failed a Senate vote Thursday, ensuring the contentious measure remained in the must-pass legislation.


  • The House and Senate return next week.


  • The president will give a national address at 7 p.m. on the Congress-passed deal to raise the debt ceiling.
  • At 8:45 p.m., Biden will attend the Friday Evening Parade at Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C.
  • Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre holds a briefing at 2 p.m.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Giuseppe Macri in Washington at gmacri@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kayla Sharpe at ksharpe@bloombergindustry.com

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