Congress has acted to raise the national debt limit by $2.5 trillion and extend it into 2023 after lawmakers raced to avert a catastrophic default ahead of a critical midweek deadline.
The Senate moved on Tuesday to pass legislation to increase the limit in a vote that fell along party lines with a final tally of 50 to 49. The House voted 221-209 in the early hours of Wednesday morning to approve the bill, which now must be signed by President Joe Biden. GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger was the lone member to break ranks and voted with Democrats.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that the debt limit could be reached on December 15, leaving Congress little time left to resolve the issue. A first-ever default would spark economic disaster and party leaders on both sides of the aisle have made clear it must be prevented.
Republicans have insisted, however, that Democrats take responsibility for raising the limit and do it on their own. In response, Congress passed legislation last week to create a fast-track process to allow Democrats to raise the debt limit in the Senate without help from Republicans.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said earlier on Tuesday that the Senate would vote to raise the debt ceiling to a level that will extend the limit into 2023.
It had been expected that Democrats would raise the limit by an amount sufficient to ensure that the issue will not need to be addressed again until after the 2022 midterm elections.
The newly created and temporary one-time process that lawmakers approved allowed Senate Democrats to take up and pass a bill to increase the debt limit by a specific dollar amount and a simple majority vote.
This story and headline have been updated with additional developments Wednesday.