Senate passes short-term debt ceiling extension

By Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0112 GMT (0912 HKT) October 8, 2021
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8:55 p.m. ET, October 7, 2021

Senate extends debt ceiling through early December

Senate TV
Senate TV

The Senate voted to raise the nation's debt limit into December after Republicans joined Democrats in breaking a filibuster. The vote was 50 to 48.

The vote only needed a simple majority to succeed. Now that the Senate has approved the debt limit extension, the House will next have to approve it before it can be sent to President Biden for his signature.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated earlier this evening that members may need to come back early to vote on the measure if it passed the Senate.

How we got here: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Thursday morning that a deal had been reached, paving the way for a final vote. An aide familiar with negotiations told CNN that the deal is to increase the ceiling by $480 billion, which is how much the Treasury Department told Congress it would need to get to Dec. 3.

The announcement came a day after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly floated a debt ceiling proposal, which sparked negotiations between the two parties to reach an agreement.

Both parties have made clear that the country must not default and that even coming close to it would likely bring catastrophic economic consequences.

8:37 p.m. ET, October 7, 2021

These are the Republicans who voted to break the debt limit deal filibuster

From CNN's Manu Raju

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walks in the US Capitol on Thursday, October 7.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walks in the US Capitol on Thursday, October 7. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images)

Republicans joined Democrats to overcome a key procedural hurdle to extend the nation’s debt ceiling through early December and avoid a government default.

Here are the 11 Republicans who voted with Democrats:

  1. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
  2. Sen. John Cornyn 
  3. Sen. John Barrasso
  4. Senate Minority Whip John Thune
  5. Sen. Roy Blunt
  6. Sen. Susan Collins
  7. Sen. Lisa Murkowski
  8. Sen. Richard Shelby
  9. Sen. Rob Portman
  10. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito
  11. Sen. Mike Rounds
8:20 p.m. ET, October 7, 2021

NOW: The Senate is now voting to raise debt limit

Republicans joined Democrats to break a filibuster on a deal to extend the nation’s debt ceiling through early December. They are now expected to vote to avoid a government default until December.

Once the Senate approves the debt limit extension, the House will next have to approve it before it can be sent to President Biden for his signature.

8:19 p.m. ET, October 7, 2021

Senate breaks filibuster on debt limit increase

From CNN's Clare Foran, Lauren Fox, Manu Raju, Ali Zaslav and Ted Barrett 

The Senate has voted to break a filibuster on the deal to extend the nation’s debt ceiling through early December. The tally was 61-38. 

It needed 60 votes to succeed. Now that this vote has succeeded, the Senate is now voting on final passage of the deal to extend the nation’s debt ceiling. This vote only needs a simple majority to succeed.

The GOP provided 11 votes to get the Senate over this procedural hurdle to increase the debt ceiling.

Once the Senate approves the debt limit extension, the House will next have to approve it before it can be sent to President Biden for his signature.

As this has stretched on, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip John Thune were waiting right by the desk where members had to vote. 

7:43 p.m. ET, October 7, 2021

Senate gears up for vote to extend debt ceiling

From CNN's Clare Foran, Ali Zaslav, Manu Raju and Lauren Fox

Senate TV
Senate TV

The Senate is voting to break a filibuster on the agreement to raise the debt ceiling, which needs 60 votes to succeed.

At least 10 Republicans must vote with Democrats, who only control 50 seats in the chamber. 

So far Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. John Cornyn voted to break the filibuster on the debt ceiling. 

Sen. Rick Scott, another member of leadership, voted "no," and the senior GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley also voted "no."

After Sen. Ted Cruz voted "no," he turned to McConnell, who said back to him, “I thought you were undecided”

After Senate Minority Whip John Thune voted "yes," McConnell could be heard saying, “Six votes to go.” 

If that vote succeeds, the Senate will vote on final passage, which requires only a simple majority.

If the Senate approves the debt limit extension, the House will next have to approve it before it can be sent to President Biden for his signature.

7:31 p.m. ET, October 7, 2021

Treasury secretary says debt ceiling debate raises questions if US is "serious about paying its bills"

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen meets with President Joe Biden and business leaders about the debt limit on Wednesday, October 6, in Washington, DC.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen meets with President Joe Biden and business leaders about the debt limit on Wednesday, October 6, in Washington, DC. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told CNN tonight uncertainty in Congress over raising the debt ceiling “is damaging to confidence" of consumers and investors.

She went on to say that “everyone including me breathed a sigh of relief that we were able to reach an agreement that gets us to Dec. 3.”

“It’s become increasingly damaging to America to have a debt ceiling,” Yellen said.

“It’s led to a series of politically dangerous conflicts that have caused Americans and global markets to question whether or not America’s serious about paying its bills. It’s flirting with a self-inflicted crisis," she said.

7:25 p.m. ET, October 7, 2021

GOP senators urged Cruz and conservative senators to drop filibuster threat on debt ceiling

From CNN's Manu Raju

Sen. Ted Cruz arrives to a meeting with Republican Senators on their party's plan for the vote on the debt limit on October 7.
Sen. Ted Cruz arrives to a meeting with Republican Senators on their party's plan for the vote on the debt limit on October 7. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

A number of Republican senators made the case behind closed doors tonight that GOP Sen. Ted Cruz and two other senators should drop their filibuster threat, and allow the vote on a debt ceiling increase to happen by a simple majority of 51 votes.

Their argument: They wouldn't have to supply any GOP votes to raise the debt ceiling. Notably, GOP Sen. Ron Johnson came down on this side of the argument. 

But Cruz indicated that he would object and insist on a 60-vote threshold, meaning 10 Republicans would be forced to vote to break the filibuster. And the two other GOP senators who are forcing a 60-vote threshold — Sens. Mike Lee and Rand Paul — were not there to make their case.

6:50 p.m. ET, October 7, 2021

Key Republican senator confident GOP has the votes to break a filibuster on debt limit increase

From CNN's Capitol Hill team 

The Senate is slated to vote at around 7:30 p.m. ET to break a filibuster on the agreement to raise the debt ceiling, which needs 60 votes to succeed.

It will requires 10 Republican senators to vote with Democrats for the measure to move forward, meaning move to the next and final vote, which could then be passed by a simple majority. 

Leaving a GOP meeting, Republican Whip John Thune said the GOP has the 10 votes to break a filibuster on the debt limit increase.

“We will be fine,” he said — but it is clear GOP leaders are struggling to get the needed votes. 

Here's what some Republican senators said this evening:

  • Sen. Bill Cassidy told CNN that he’d “defer to the Whip,” and would not say how he would vote. 
  • “It’s uncertain,” Sen. Mike Braun said, noting that there was a lot of members making the case that Democrats “ultimately will do it.”
  • Sen. Josh Hawley said, “if you’re asking me how this vote’s gonna go, I don’t know.” 
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham said in a statement, “I don’t understand why we’re folding here.”
  • Sen. Kevin Cramer says he’d put the odds of getting the votes at a little over 50%. 
  • Sen. Ted Cruz said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s strategy to offer Democrats a short-term deal on the debt ceiling was a “serous mistake.” Cruz said “of course” he views it as McConnell folding and said “yes” he was surprised by the decision. 
6:02 p.m. ET, October 7, 2021

Pelosi tells members to prepare to come back early to pass debt ceiling bill

From CNN's Ryan Nobles  

In a Dear Colleague letter to fellow members tonight, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she may call the House back early to vote on the debt ceiling measure being worked on in the Senate. 

"We have also been working to protect the full faith and credit of the United States. At this writing, the Senate is engaged in hours of debate that will lead to a vote to lift the debt ceiling," she wrote. 

"Hopefully that will occur and if it is necessary for Members to return early, Leader Hoyer will give sufficient notice as promise," Pelosi added. 

The deal between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, which Schumer announced on the floor earlier today, is to increase the debt ceiling by $480 billion, an aide familiar with the negotiations tells CNN.

The Senate is set to vote on the deal in the next few hours.