WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate agreed Thursday to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government for three months and also provide disaster aid, after President Donald Trumpwas able to reach a deal with Democratic congressional leaders.
The measure passed 80-17, with Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., voting in favor of the legislation. All of the senators who voted against the amendment were Republican.
The legislation would allow the federal government to borrow funds for spending through Dec. 8. If a deal is not reached before the deadline, which is currently Sept. 29, the federal government would have to decide which payments would be made, leaving some services and programs unfunded. If a spending plan is not reached by Sept. 30, the government would be forced to shutdown, causing some functions to end until an agreement is reached.
The amendment also includes $7.4 billion dedicated to the disaster relief fund. The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved almost $7.9 billion in emergency funding Wednesday, bringing the total to nearly $15.3 billion following Thursday’s action by the Senate.
Both chambers approved $450 million for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s disaster loan program.
The House measure passed 419-3, with Republican Reps. David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Evan Jenkins all voting in favor. The chambre did not provide a provision regarding the debt ceiling.
Prior to Thursday’s vote, Capito said on MetroNews “Talkline” she was disappointed in the length of time regarding the debt ceiling, but felt the legislation was needed following the recent string of hurricanes, including Hurricane Harvey which affected Houston and other communities in Texas and Louisiana.
“I understand that we need disaster relief for Houston and possibly (Hurricane) Irma, and I think that’s the most critical thing,” she said. “I was surprised by the length of time, but the president wanted to do it this way, and I’m supportive of that.”
Trump drew some criticisms after reaching a deal with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
“The Pelosi-Schumer-Trump deal is bad,” Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said on Twitter.
Republican leaders had pushed for an 18-month deal during a meeting Wednesday at the White House.
The agreement came after Politico reported Wednesday morning Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had met in an effort to repair their relationship and prepare for discussions regarding tax reform.
This followed reports of a rocky relationship between the two, which included angry tweets from the president and angry phone calls after Republicans failed to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s health care law.
Capito said on “Talkline” said as discussions regarding over tax changes begin, cooperation between the president and McConnell will grow.
“We live to fight another day and we need each other,” she said.
Capito said once the debt ceiling is raised, lawmakers will be able to focus on other issues. During an Aug. 23 stop in South Charleston, the junior senator said one of her legislative goals once the August recess ended was an infrastructure package.