WASHINGTON – The House voted overwhelmingly along party lines Tuesday evening on a bipartisan agreement that allows Congress to move closer to raising the nation's debt ceiling.
The vote came after leadership in the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced an agreement Tuesday that would create a one-time process to allow Senate Democrats to raise the debt ceiling on their own without fear of a Republican filibuster or other procedural hurdles.
The agreement, once it also passes the Senate, would create a fast-track process to allow Democrats in the upper chamber to increase the debt limit with just 51 votes, or a simple majority.
Under standard rules, a vote to raise the debt ceiling would need 60 votes, meaning at least 10 Republicans would need to join Democrats to push the measure through a Senate split 50-50. But Senate Republicans have been reluctant to help Democrats raise the debt ceiling, and have blocked a long-term increase to the debt limit.
The agreement itself would require 10 Republicans to join Democrats to pass, but McConnell said earlier Tuesday he was "confident this particular procedure coupled with the avoidance of Medicare cuts will achieve enough Republican support to clear the 60-vote threshold."
The agreement on the special pathway can be used only once, before mid-January. The proposal is tied to legislation that would prevent automatic cuts to Medicare.
GOP lawmakers said earlier this year they wouldn't help Democrats raise the country's borrowing authority. Republicans wanted Democrats to specify the exact dollar number amount of new national debt as they attempt to pass expansive legislative priorities, like President Joe Biden's Build Back Better Act.
The new legislation the House has passed does just that, instead of suspending it for a length of time.
“I’m going to support Democrats raising the debt ceiling without Republican votes,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters. “To have Democrats raise the debt ceiling and be held accountable for racking up the debt is my goal. And this helps us accomplish it.”
“To me, that’s the most important part: that the voters in 2022 see that the people who recklessly spent money that our future generation is going to have to pay back didn’t care,” he added.
Lawmakers still face a ticking clock: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told them she estimated the United States would reach its debt ceiling by Dec. 15. If lawmakers do not address the debt limit by then, the U.S. would default for the first time, which could lead to a global recession, Treasury Department officials and experts said.
Once the legislation that spells out the agreement is approved by the Senate, both chambers of Congress could then vote on legislation to raise the debt ceiling.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: House OKs agreement on deal to allow Democrats to address debt ceiling