Senate passes debt ceiling deal, Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper vote yes

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David Zalubowski/AP Photo
U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, D-Colo., front, makes a point as U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., looks on during a visit to a pair of buses set up as travelling clinics as part of the state’s Vaccines For All” campaign Friday, June 18, 2021, in Aurora, Colo. The buses are being used to distribute the COVID-19 vaccines to a majority of adults.

Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper voted to pass a debt ceiling bill and avert default on the government’s debt. After passing the House Wednesday night, the Senate passed the bill 63-36 late Thursday.

“The most important part of this deal is avoiding a default. Period,” Hickenlooper said.

Like many in both chambers, there were areas where he felt the deal fell short, but hoped the bill be lead to more action. 

“We have far more to do on permitting reform if we’re going to take full advantage of the IRA’s (Inflation Reduction Act’s) boost to clean energy production and establish true energy independence. I’m ready to work with anyone to get that reform done,” Hickenlooper said.

“This bill is far from perfect– but it prevents a historic default that would have devastated the American economy,” said Bennet in a statement.

The senator, who sported a Denver Nuggets jersey heading to the chamber at the start of the vote series, has sponsored a bill to get rid of the debt ceiling, which over the years has led to heated political rhetoric and pushed the U.S. close to default.

“We cannot continue to allow politicians to weaponize the debt ceiling and hold the American economy hostage year after year," Bennet said. "It’s time for Congress to pass my bill to eliminate the debt ceiling and permanently lift the threat of default from our economy."

The Senate sprinted to the finish after leaders agreed to hold 11 amendment votes. But they also had to ensure that none of the amendments would pass. As Schumer noted Wednesday, the Senate can’t afford to change the bill and send it back to the House for another vote before the June 5 deadline. That’s the day the Treasury warns the United States will no longer be able to pay all its bills.

The strong bipartisan support for the bill in the House, where it passed 314-117, also helped pave the way for the bill to get through the Senate quickly. All of Colorado’s Democratic representatives voted for the bill, as did Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn. While both GOP Reps. Lauren Boebert and Ken Buck panned the bill, only Buck voted against it. Boebert missed the vote.

Many senators who opposed the bill were also resigned to the fact that it would pass and indicated they would not drag out the process.

The compromise agreement worked out by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy suspended the debt limit through Jan 1, 2025, in exchange for caps on discretionary spending over the next two years. It also instituted expanded work requirements for SNAP and TANF with permanent carve-outs for certain groups like veterans and homeless, claws back unspent COVID funds, rescinding some IRS funding and streamlining permitting for some energy projects.