The Senate cleared the way Thursday to suspend the debt ceiling by advancing a bill that will allow Democrats alone to prevent the country from defaulting on its national debt on December 15.
The maneuver that will allow the U.S. to continue paying its debts is the result of months of negotiations between Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Mitch McConnell.
The two reached an agreement this week to raise the debt ceiling without the Republicans having to vote for it.
The initiative changes the rules so that, this time and only this time, obstruction techniques, such as filibustering, cannot be used and the bill can be passed with a simple minority of 50 votes, the number Democrats have in the Senate although they have the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.
However, in order for the measure to be debated and then voted on in the Senate, it still had to pass a procedural vote on Thursday for which 60 supporters were needed.
Fourteen Republicans, including McConnell, joined the Senate’s 50 Democrats on Thursday to overcome that procedural vote, which was the biggest obstacle to the United States being able to continue paying its sovereign debt past Dec. 15.
McConnell’s decision to help the Democrats has earned him criticism from some of his coreligionists and even former President Donald Trump.
In a statement Wednesday night, Trump considered that the Democrats would have given up completely if McConnell had known how to play his cards. McConnell, however, felt that the December 15 date was too close and not acting could hurt the economy.
As early as October, disagreements between Democrats and Republicans brought the country to the brink of default last October, but McConnell eventually relented and helped the Democrats.
Congress then approved raising the debt ceiling by $480 billion, an amount that will allow the United States to pay its debts until December 15, according to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s latest estimates.