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7 Oct, 2021 14:42

Agreement reached to extend US debt ceiling until early December, Schumer says, averting potential default

Agreement reached to extend US debt ceiling until early December, Schumer says, averting potential default

US Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) has announced that a short-term agreement has been reached on the debt ceiling following weeks of standstill in Congress with Republicans refusing to give support to the move.

Senate Majority Leader Schumer said on Thursday that a deal had been reached with Republicans and the "hope" is to get it passed by the end of the day. Reports indicated that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) had previously signified to his party that he was willing to negotiate a short-term agreement with Democrats, who have struggled to get the 50 votes needed for the expensive Build Back Better infrastructure plan, with moderate Democrats like Sen. Kyrsten Sinema holding back support.

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McConnell's offer will reportedly extend the debt limit into December. Democrats had previously hoped to push to December of next year, before McConnell made his offer late Wednesday. 

After a meeting on avoiding a potential financial disaster on October 18 – when the US would likely begin defaulting on loans without the debt extension – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) praised McConnell for seeing "the light." 

President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion Build Back Better scheme has been heavily criticized by Republicans over its hefty price tag and its loose, social-leaning definition of 'infrastructure'.

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“To protect the American people from a near-term Democrat-created crisis, we will also allow Democrats to use normal procedures to pass an emergency debt limit extension at a fixed dollar amount to cover current spending levels into December,” McConnell said in a statement on Wednesday about the deal.

The short-term fix only provides Democrats a few more months to come up with a long-term solution to the debt ceiling that can pass or to get the Build Back Better bill to a place where it can get full Democratic support before they break in December. McConnell's deal, according to him, will "moot Democrats’ excuses about the time crunch they created." He called on the party to introduce "standalone debt limit legislation through reconciliation" to address the looming debt ceiling.

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