With GOP votes, Dem-led Senate passes bill to fast-track debt limit increase with simple majority

The national debt is nearly $29 trillion

Updated: December 10, 2021 - 5:52pm

With support from a group of GOP senators, the Democratic-led Senate on Thursday passed a bill to fast-track raising the debt limit with only a simple majority of 51 votes as opposed to the current 60-vote threshold.

The bill to allow a debt limit increase to pass with a simple majority passed the Democratic-led House earlier this week.

Following its passage, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer reached an agreement to attach the one-time debt limit rule change to a Medicare bill, which also suspends Pay-As-You Go (PAYGO) budget rules.

The resolution to change the threshold to raise the debt limit from 60 votes to 51 advanced 64-36. It passed on Thursday evening 59-35. There were 6 senators who did not cast a vote including Maine Independent Sen. Angus King.

The national debt is nearly $29 trillion, according to the Treasury Department. 

Senate Democrats are working on a multi-trillion budget reconciliation bill that includes new social programs and $550 billion of climate change initiatives.

Schumer had resisted calls from the GOP to include a debt limit increase in that legislation, given that negotiations among Democrats are still taking place.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) voted against the measure.

"Democrats had an opportunity to be able to do it by reconciliation. We've been clear on it since July and we should have stuck with that simple thing," he said. 

The House meets next week to consider a measure to raise the debt ceiling.