The United States Senate, under Democratic control, approved this Thursday the agreement reached between the White House and the Republicans to raise the debt ceilingthus preventing the country from going into suspension of payments.
With 63 votes in favor and 36 against, the bill passed the last legislative hurdle before ending up in the Oval Office for President Joe Biden to sign his signature.
The draft has been approved by the Senate one day after the Lower House, in the hands of the Republicans, give it its go-ahead and four days before the deadline set by the Treasury Department in which the US. could have defaulted on its national debt.
“The United States can breathe easy because with this process we are avoiding default,” said House Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer shortly before the vote.
With these words, Schumer was announcing an agreement with a group of wayward Republican senators who, shortly before, had threatened to lengthen the process if the Democrats did not commit to ensuring that the defense budget could be increased more than what is contemplated in the agreement itself.
After his speech, he began a long process of proposing amendments that, however, failed to prevent the project from being ratified as it was approved the day before by the House of Representatives.
The measure suspends the debt ceiling for the next two years, until after the November 2024 presidential elections. Specifically, it suspends the current debt limit of $31.4 trillion until January 1, 2025.
In exchange, the agreement reached over the weekend between the White House and the Republicans in the Lower House contemplates, among other things, caps on spending on programs financed by Congress in areas such as health, education, justice or protection environmental.
Under that pact, non-defense spending will stay the same in fiscal year 2024 and increase 1% in fiscal year 2025.
Likewise, it tightens the work requirements to access social benefits, such as food stamps, and rescinds 28,000 million unspent dollars that had been assigned to relief programs against the pandemic.
In parallel, it cuts part of the new funds destined to the public Treasury to reallocate them to items that are not defense and contemplates the resumption of payments by university students of the debt they have accumulated.
After the vote, which ended around 11:00 p.m. in Washington DC, Schumer defended the project for achieving three “extremely important” objectives: avoiding a suspension of payments, preserving most of the investments approved by Biden so far and eliminate the most extreme proposals of the Republicans.
“Tonight’s outcome is good news for our economy and for American families,” said the Democrat.
Biden himself spoke in the same vein, in a statement issued shortly after the vote, in which he said that he hopes to sign the rule “as soon as possible” and announced that he will give a speech on the subject on Friday.
The US Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, also celebrated the approval of the pact in a statement in which she also criticized the use of the debt ceiling to negotiate.
“I continue to believe that the faith and credit of the United States should never be used as a bargaining chip.io”, assured the person in charge.
The debate in the Senate started around 2:30 p.m. this Thursday.
Shortly after, Biden, back at the White House after attending an Air Force graduation ceremony in Colorado where he suffered a spectacular fall, received a call from former President Barack Obama in which the former president inquired about the votes in Congress, the government said.
The approval of the agreement in both chambers of Congress was crucial so that the country did not default on its public debtafter the debt ceiling, the legal limit to the money that the US can borrow to meet its commitments, was reached last January.
EFE International news agency based in Madrid and present in more than 110 countries.