Senate passes bill easing way for debt limit increase

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., returns to his office as work continues on the process to raise the debt limit, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate moved ahead Thursday with legislation that would create a one-time, fast-track process for raising the debt limit, overcoming a Republican filibuster and likely averting another last-minute rush to avoid a devastating federal default.

The bill fits the two goals that Republican leader Mitch McConnell had set months ago for the politically difficult vote to increase the country's borrowing authority: Democrats probably will have to pass the debt ceiling increase on their own, without GOP support, and they will have to increase it by a specific amount.

McConnell was able to deliver enough Republican votes to advance the bill Thursday when 14 Republicans sided with Democrats to end debate. That was the most precarious and unpredictable vote in the process. That support largely held with the vote on final passage of the measure later in the evening.