U.S. President Joe Biden had indicated earlier this week that senators from his Democratic Party could bypass a supermajority voting rule in order to increase the nation’s debt limit without Republican votes.
“It’s a real possibility,” Biden told reporters outside the White House.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the government will likely reach its borrowing limit by October 18 unless Congress acts.
Coming too close to the borrowing limit has its perils. A debt ceiling dispute in 2011 that Congress resolved two days before the borrowing limit was reached caused stock prices to fall and the first-ever credit downgrade for U.S. debt.
Under Senate rules, 60 votes are needed to advance the legislation instead of a simple majority vote. The chamber is evenly divided between the Democratic and Republican caucuses, and Republicans already blocked two efforts to raise the debt limit last week.
Here’s an explanation of how filibusters work.