Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
December 9, 2021

Fourteen Senate Republicans on Thursday helped advance a deal negotiated by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to set up a one-time exemption to the filibuster on raising the debt ceiling.   Senators voted 64-36 to close debate on the bill, which also prevents automatic cuts faced by physicians and other medical providers under Medicare from taking effect. The bill sets up a fast-track process for bypassing the 60-vote legislative filibuster on a bill to raise the debt ceiling, letting Democrats raise it on their own. The vote on the debt hike bill is expected to take place by December 15th, when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned Congress will hit a cliff for keeping the government solvent.   Though leadership had expressed public confidence for days they would be able to deliver at least 10 GOP votes, the deal, negotiated by McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) sparked fresh divisions among Senate Republicans just two months after a bruising fight over a short-term debt hike.  President Joe Biden must now sign this bill into law, and then Congress will have to take up additional legislation raising the debt limit itself under the new procedure. The House passed the bill, which also prevents a series of cuts to Medicare and other government programs, earlier this week.  It is likely the Senate will pass the final debt ceiling legislation tomorrow.

As the National Defense Authorization ACT (NDAA) creeps forward, cloture was filed during Wednesday’s Senate session on the motion to concur in the House amendment to S.1605 the vehicle for the NDAA – with a filing deadline today for 1st degree amendments and a final vote expected next week.

The House will spend all of today considering H.R. 5314 – Protecting Our Democracy Act.  The legislation is the third in a trio of bills, alongside the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, largely backed by Democrats in Congress but stalled by Republicans in the Senate.  Among other things, the legislation limits the president’s pardon power, extends the deadline for prosecuting former presidents and vice presidents for federal crimes committed before or during their time in office, enforces the constitutional ban on presidents using the office to enrich themselves and boosts enforcement of congressional subpoenas.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.