Schumer tees up key Thursday vote on debt deal

Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) addresses reporters after the weekly policy luncheon on Tuesday, December 7, 2021.
Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) addresses reporters after the weekly policy luncheon on Tuesday, December 7, 2021.
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Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday night teed up a key vote on a deal struck with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to raise the debt ceiling with only Democratic votes.

Schumer, before wrapping up the Senate for the night, moved to tee up a vote expected on Thursday, absent a deal to speed things up, on the bill that would prevent cuts to Medicare and green lights the Senate bypassing the legislative filibuster on a subsequent debt ceiling bill.

The deal was unveiled by congressional leaders earlier Tuesday and passed the House on Tuesday night with only one Republican, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), supporting it.

To get the bill, which lays out the instructions for how separate debt ceiling legislation will be considered, through the Senate, Schumer will need the support of at least 10 GOP senators. After that bill passes, Democrats will then be able to pass a stand-alone bill on raising the debt ceiling with a simple majority, meaning they won't need any GOP support.

McConnell, during a press conference with reporters, said that he was "confident" enough GOP senators would help advance the bill that sets up a one-time exemption for the filibuster on debt ceiling legislation.

"There are always differences of opinion among Republicans about how to handle a delicate issue like the debt ceiling. We'll be voting on it Thursday and I'm confident that this particular procedure coupled with the avoidance of Medicare cuts will achieve enough Republican support to clear the 60 vote threshold," he said.

"And then later, when the majority leader decides to have the procedure, it can all occur in one day and the actual debt ceiling vote will be done at a 51 vote threshold," he added.

GOP leaders view the deal as a win because it creates a fast-track process that forces Democrats to raise the debt ceiling to a specific number, similar to the budget reconciliation process that Republicans long pressured Democrats to use to raise the debt ceiling.

Even as members of GOP leadership voiced confidence the bill that eases the way to a simple majority debt ceiling vote would be able to pass the Senate, conservatives pushed back during a closed-door lunch.

Some of the 11 GOP senators who previously helped advance a debt ceiling deal in early October have also said they won't support the current deal.