Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced a deal on the Senate floor Thursday evening to vote on amendments to legislation to raise the debt limit until the start of 2025, and get it passed before markets open Friday morning.
Schumer announced the Senate would vote on 11 amendments to the bill — 10 sponsored by Republicans and one sponsored by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) — and that votes would be limited to 10 minutes to speed the process.
The chamber would then vote on final passage.
The breakthrough came after a multi-hour standoff with defense hawks, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who demanded commitments from Schumer and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) to protect defense spending from a potential 1 percent rescission later in the year and to promise action on a defense supplemental spending bill.
The Democratic leader entered a joint statement with McConnell into the congressional record before announcing the deal to move forward on amendments.
The statement clarified that the spending caps imposed by the debt limit deal negotiated by President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) would not prevent the Senate from passing supplemental spending bills to provide more money to the Defense Department or respond to a national emergency.
“After we finish voting on the amendments, we are immediately considering final passage, and by passing this bill we will avoid default,” Schumer announced. “America can breathe a sigh of relief.”
Graham, who earlier in the day had threatened to drag out the debate over the debt limit until Tuesday unless his concerns about defense spending were addressed, announced that Schumer had agreed to move a supplemental defense spending bill later this year.
“I’ve been informed that shortly the majority leader will come to the floor and announce his commitment and the body’s commitment to do a supplemental to make sure that the damage done by this bill is at least partially corrected,” Graham said.
“This bill puts our military behind the eight ball. There’s not one penny in this bill for Ukrainian assistance,” he added.
Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) told reporters after the announcement of the agreement that “there really is a desire by the vast majority of the members of the Senate to actually take care of the defensive needs of our country.”
“The way that the bill was crafted, if we were not able to do all appropriations bills then the non-defense discretionary [spending] came out better and defense came out worse,” he said, referring to a provision in the bill that would cut discretionary spending across the board as a penalty if Congress fails to pass the regular spending bills by year’s end.
Schumer returned to the floor after the first amendment vote to read aloud his joint statement with McConnell because he wanted to “dispel rumors” that the debt limit deal might shut off the possibility of additional spending on defense and other priorities.
“This debt ceiling deal does nothing to limit the Senate’s ability to appropriate emergency supplemental fund to ensure our military capabilities are sufficient to deter China, Russia and other adversaries,” he announced.
He added that the bill would not limit the Senate’s ability to appropriate emergency funding for disaster relief or to respond to the fentanyl crisis.
Aris Folley contributed. Updated at 8:29 p.m.