Biden Signs Short-Term Spending Bill Raising US Debt Limit, Averting Default
00:10 GMT 15.10.2021 (Updated: 00:43 GMT 15.10.2021)
US President Joe Biden has signed into law an incremental increase in the country's debt limit, buying two more months of time in which lawmakers can potentially hammer out a more permanent deal to avoid a default.
The temporary deal has increased the US government's spending limit by $480 billion, enough to postpone the crisis until December.
It only narrowly passed the Senate last week after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agreed to a negotiated deal: 11 Republicans would break rank and side with the Democrats if the debt ceiling was only increased by a set amount instead of totally suspended, as Democrats had sought. Republicans had threatened to block the bill's passage on principle by using the filibuster, but the 61-vote majority bypassed that stalling tactic and brought the bill to a vote. In the actual vote on the bill, no Republican voted to pass it.
If they had stalled for another two weeks, the US federal government would have been unable to make payments on its debts and would have been forced to make severe spending cuts or default on its debt, both of which would have sent the US economy into a tailspin.
The House of Representatives then passed the bill on Tuesday, with both parties voting along party lines, but with comparative ease since the Democrats command a clear majority and no filibuster rule exists there.
The US national debt limit stands at $28.5 trillion and increases every year due to deficit spending. While a series of massive pandemic relief bills passed over the last two years have helped drive that number up quickly, panic over the debt increasing has been more recently fanned by two massive infrastructure bills triumphed by the Biden administration, which are slated to cost together more than $4 trillion over the next five years.