Biden spokeswoman calls debt ceiling agreement 'positive step forward,' says WH will follow Schumer's lead

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White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Thursday called the Senate’s debt ceiling agreement a "positive step forward," signaling that the White House would agree to what is approved by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Jean-Pierre discussed the debt ceiling agreement with reporters Thursday during a gaggle aboard Air Force One, during President Biden’s trip to Chicago.

The debt ceiling agreement reached by Senate Republicans and Democrats will raise the ceiling by $480 billion – the amount needed to get the government through Dec. 3 – the same time government funding expires. The agreement likely sets Congress up for another debt ceiling standoff before the Christmas recess.

Some Senate Republicans are trying to get their GOP colleagues to give unanimous consent to move the debt ceiling bill on the floor Thursday, rather than waiting until Saturday as the chamber will otherwise have to.

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If the Senate does manage to get unanimous consent to move the debt ceiling increase, the bill could be passed by Thursday night. If not, it could take into Sunday to pass the bill.

However, there are multiple Senate Republicans upset that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., agreed to a temporary hike of the debt ceiling. So it is not clear Republicans will be able to round up the votes they need on that plan.

At this point, Jean-Pierre said "this is a positive step forward," adding that the White House is going to "follow" and going to "continue to work closely" with leadership.

"We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing, which is making it really clear what’s at stake, and telling Mitch McConnell and Republicans to get out of the way, stop using this political football, stop putting our economic health in potential crisis," she said. "This is something that has been done … three times under Donald Trump, the previous president, in a bipartisan way … this shouldn’t be where we are today."

She added: "This, like I said, is a positive step forward and we will continue to be in touch with Leader Schumer and work closely with him."

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had warned that failing to raise the debt ceiling before the Oct. 18 deadline would send the government into default for the first time in history. Yellen said it would have disastrous consequences that could plunge the country into another recession and destabilize global markets.

The limit on federal borrowing currently stands at $24.8 trillion. 

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During the Trump administration, the debt limit was suspended three separate times, according to Yellen. The most recent suspension was passed on a bipartisan basis in 2019 – it expired in June 2021. 

Failure to raise or suspend the debt ceiling could also lead to delays in Social Security and child tax credit checks this October. Yellen said about 50 million seniors would be impacted, alongside millions of American families who rely on the child tax credit to make ends meet. Federal employees may also experience paycheck delays.

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Raising or suspending the debt limit allows the federal government to pay obligations already incurred. It does not authorize new spending. 

Fox News' Chad Pergram and Tyler Olson contributed to this report. 

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