Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding legislation that will allow the Senate to raise the debt ceiling by a simple majority vote and making progress on the important work the Senate must complete before the end of the year. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
At the beginning of December I said the Senate had a lot of hard work to do in order to address several critical priorities before the end of the year.
When the month began, America knew we had to avoid a government shutdown. We had to approve our annual defense bill. We had to preserve the full faith and credit of the United States, and take action on Build Back Better before Christmas, as well as deal with voting rights.
It is now December 8th and the Senate is making very good progress on all these priorities. It was a big, big agenda, and we're clearly not through with it, but we are making good progress, and there is clearly light at the end of the tunnel on debt ceiling and the defense bill, based on the agreement Leader McConnell and I came to and the House's action last night.
Last night, let me go over those details, the House of Representatives passed two important pieces of legislation.
One of them is a compromise version of our annual defense bill, which I expect will earn bipartisan support in this chamber in the coming days.
I want to thank my colleagues, especially Senator Reed and Ranking Member Inhofe—and all my colleagues who worked to shape this legislation—for helping us make sure we pass a bipartisan defense bill this year, as we have done for decades.
The second bill will enable this chamber to swiftly address the debt limit, sparing our country from the calamity—and a calamity it would have been—of a first-ever default on our national debt. This fast-track process was included in a bill that will also provide critical protections for Medicare funding, preventing slashes in that very important funding to so many seniors, and waive the Pay-Go rule to avoid harmful cuts.
Last night I took the first procedural step to advance this legislation, setting up a cloture vote to take place as soon as Thursday.
Once our proposal is approved by the Senate, we will be able to address the debt limit in this chamber with a simple majority vote, which is exactly what Democrats have been seeking for months, what I've been asking for at this lectern time after time after time.
I want to thank the Republican Leader for his help working with us to find a responsible path that avoids partisan brinksmanship.
Democrats have always said that the Senate should be able to raise the debt limit without resorting to a convoluted, lengthy, and risky reconciliation process. And under our plan we won't have to do that.
Democrats have also said, repeatedly, that the responsible thing to do is raise the debt ceiling – both Democrats and Republicans voted for the spending increase – so we've said repeatedly that we're ready to shoulder this burden, even if our Republican colleagues are not going to be able to.
It now looks like we’ll be able to do that, to have 50 Democrats vote responsibly – doing what's good for the nation, avoiding catastrophe – by raising the debt ceiling to pay the debts we have already incurred, just like any household must do.
This agreement we’ve secured is the responsible path forward: no gamesmanship on the debt limit means no default on our sovereign debt and the calamity, the calamity, that would cause. And, again, I thank my Republican colleagues and Leader McConnell. We have had fruitful, honest, and good discussions over the last several weeks to come up within this proposal.
We are not over the finish line yet, but I want to thank all my colleagues for working in good faith to move forward on this responsibility that must be addressed in the coming days.
Soon we’ll be able to cross off another major item off our December to-do list. And there are more to roll up our sleeves and get working on. They are so important.