Senate Passes, President Signs Deal To Raise Debt Ceiling

After six weeks, some would say seven months, of contentious and often frustrating debate, the debate over raising the ceiling on the National Debt finally came to an end today:

With strong bipartisan support, the Senate passed a deal 74-26 to raise the nation’s debt ceiling on Tuesday, less than 12 hours before the Treasury was to begin default on its financial obligations.

The bargain —already passed by the House, 269 to 161, on Monday — will provide a $900 billion boost to the debt ceiling in exchange for a combination of $2.5 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade.

Despite receiving a strong approval vote from the upper chamber, however, virtually every senator speaking out in its support expressed deep dissatisfaction with the legislation’s content.

“At the end of the day I will vote for this measure, but obviously with a heavy heart,” said Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) Tuesday morning.

“At the end of the day nobody is going to be totally happy with this bill,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). “We would have had more cuts if I had written this bill.”

The 26 votes in opposition to the bargain were made up of 19 conservative Republicans who held the opinion the deal would not do enough to reduce the nation’s deficit and seven caucusing progressive Democrats who argued the absence of tax hikes made it untenable.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), for example, warned the bill’s meager cuts would only serve to delay default.

“We are headed towards ruin if we continue on this path of spending money we don’t have,” said Paul. “For decades, America has lived beyond her means. A nation that lives beyond her means will eventually live beneath her means. That day is coming.”

“A day of reckoning looms,” Paul warned.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said he could not support the deal because it relied on the middle class rather than the rich to pay for deficit reduction.

“I cannot in good conscience support a plan where soldiers, seniors, students and working families must endure trillions in cuts while oil companies, billionaires, and corporate jet owners are not asked to pay one cent toward shared sacrifice,” said Menendez.

The President has already signed the bill into law. And so, it ends.

In some ways it was a rather extraordinary moment in American history since a debate over raising the debt ceiling in a time of a national economic slowdown turned into a debate over cutting spending and reducing the role of government. Some have referred to it as the beginning of an age of austerity, but only time will tell if that is true. In any case, though, it was a bizarre couple of weeks the consequences of which have yet to be determined.

Now, let’s get Congress headed off on vacation before they do any more damage.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Congress, Deficit and Debt, Politicians, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.


  1. legion says:

    And with this, the penultimate act of a classic tragedy, the sun begins to set on the US economy. There is simply no way to avoid a double-dip recession now, and if the Euro folks don’t notice fast enough, we will see this recession turn into another full-on global Depression. All because this generation of Rich People don’t want to follow the cardinal rule of business – you have to spend money to make money. They’d rather legislate a simple transfer of wealth to themselves.

  2. The final bill, while not perfect, leaves us in a better situation than we were before.

    So good fight, everyone back to your corners, and get ready for the next round. =)

  3. Correct me if I am wrong, but couldn’t this be changed in next years budget?

  4. @Talmadge East:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but couldn’t this be changed in next years budget?

    Everything can always be changed in next year’s budget. There’s no constitutional way for one congress to tie the hands of a future congress.