Currently, the Senate is split 50/50 but the Democrats have the presidency or they have a slim majority in the Senate.

My question is do the Democrats need a Republican vote to increase the debt ceiling? if so why don't they just do it? Why are so keen on getting Republican votes as well?

1 Answer 1


Every bill to be considered by the Senate is subject to debate. In the case of the debt ceiling, that debate may be filibustered; that is, subject to endless debate. To end the debate requires a cloture vote -- a vote to end debate and proceed to the vote for the bill.

Because cloture requires a three-fifths vote of the Senate. Several Republicans would need to join with Democrats to end the debate. Once the debate has been "closed", Senate Democrats could pass the bill without any Republican votes.

  • 3
    Couldn't Democrats use the reconciliation path to circumvent this issue?
    – Asleepace
    Commented Sep 29, 2021 at 18:39
  • Downvote explanation: this is true, but given that reconciliation is an alternative means Democrats could use to raise the ceiling, it is incomplete and thus misleading.
    – erask
    Commented Sep 29, 2021 at 18:55
  • 3
    @Asleepace - Technically, yes. As a practical matter, at this point, no. cbsnews.com/news/… discusses this. "But Schumer rejected the idea on Tuesday, saying "going through reconciliation is risky to the country and is a nonstarter." He described the process of using reconciliation to address the debt limit as long, convoluted and difficult, noting that it "ping-pongs" between the House and the Senate and can't be done by just adding an amendment."
    – Rick Smith
    Commented Sep 29, 2021 at 18:56
  • @RickSmith ah makes sense (not that any of this makes sense tbh), not sure how we can just increasing our debt, but I suppose that's a whole other topic altogether...
    – Asleepace
    Commented Sep 29, 2021 at 19:02
  • 2
    @Asleepace: Short answer (a better answer to the question would be too long for comments): we can increase our debt, because people are willing to buy/hold our debt. The debt limit is a legal barrier imposed by congress, so they can raise, suspend or do away with it at any time.
    – sharur
    Commented Sep 29, 2021 at 21:44

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