Senate racing to vote on the debt ceiling deal as soon as Thursday night

WASHINGTON — The Senate is working to pass the debt ceiling deal negotiated by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy by the end of the week.

There is an effort underway to pass the bill as soon as Thursday night, multiple sources said, but Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., cautioned that Friday is more likely.

A final vote on the debt limit bill is “trending more towards tomorrow,” Thune said, but senators are still “a ways away” from an agreement on timing.

The Senate needs to pass the debt ceiling bill and send it to Biden’s desk for his signature by Monday to avoid a U.S. default, according to the Treasury Department.

Senate leaders are working to get an agreement on amendment votes, allowing senators who oppose parts of the debt ceiling bill to get their colleagues on the record on a variety of issues. A series of amendment votes could take hours, potentially pushing passage into Friday, or even the weekend.

All 100 senators will need to agree to speed up consideration of the measure and the amendment votes are meant to get the whole chamber on board. If any one senator objects, the final vote could be pushed as late as Wednesday, June 7, two days past the deadline.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., opened the Senate floor Thursday morning urging quick passage of the bill. 

“Time is a luxury the Senate does not have if we want to prevent default. June 5th is less than four days away,” Schumer said, adding that the Senate will stay in session until the bill has passed.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who called the debt ceiling bill a “deal from hell,” has said he’ll file multiple amendments, but that he wouldn’t hold up the deal “for the sake of holding it up.”

“If they’ll allow us to get votes on our amendments, I see no reason to hold it up,” Lee said Wednesday.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., will also try to get an amendment to remove a provision in the deal that would expedite the approval of a natural gas pipeline backed by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

Kaine got into what he called a “robust debate” with Manchin over the provision at a Senate lunch Wednesday and expressed outrage that the White House didn’t give him a head’s up that it would be included in the debt ceiling deal.

“It’s slimy,” Kaine said. “It didn’t have to go on the debt ceiling bill. I mean, for God’s sake, does this company really feel like they’re as important as the creditworthiness of the United States?”

The amendments are not expected to pass, as that would send the whole debt ceiling bill back to the House with little time left to avoid a default.

“At this point, any needless delay or any last-minute holdups would be an unnecessary and even dangerous risk,” Schumer warned Thursday. “And any change to this bill that forces us to send it back to the House would be entirely unacceptable. It would almost guarantee default.”

Ryan Nobles, Julie Tsirkin and Liz Brown-Kaiser contributed.

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