Senate Republicans are firmly resisting an increase in the federal debt limit, even as Democratic leaders on Monday announced they would tie the increase in the borrowing limit to a must-have government funding measure.
Government funding is due to expire in late September, and administration officials predict that the United States could default on its credit in the coming weeks. The White House has warned that an unprecedented default could send shockwaves through the economy and trigger a recession.
For weeks, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has opposed support for an increase in the debt ceiling, arguing that Democrats, who control both houses of Congress, should be held accountable for the move. But Senate Democrats have worked with Republicans under the Trump administration to raise the debt ceiling on several occasions, and they have said it is a bipartisan responsibility.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday sought to increase pressure on Republicans by tying the increase in the federal spending cap to a resolution to keep government open beyond an imminent end of the exercise. This resolution includes aid to Afghan refugees and emergency funding for natural disaster relief.
“The American people expect our fellow Republicans to shoulder their responsibilities and pay off the debts they proudly helped incur,” the executives wrote in a statement, highlighting $ 908 billion in COVID relief legislation. dollars passed under former President Donald Trump.
Moments after the Democratic announcement that the two measures would be linked, McConnell threw cold water on the plan. In his remarks on the ground Monday afternoon, he doubled down on his long-standing opposition to raising the debt ceiling.
Republicans would support an extension of government funding, McConnell said, but not if that includes raising the debt ceiling.
“Since Democrats have decided to go it alone, they will not get help from Republicans in the Senate to raise the debt ceiling,” McConnell said Monday.
Almost all Senate Republicans are behind McConnell, vowing to vote against a limit increase because they oppose the massive additional spending measures Democrats are currently working to craft.
Their biggest opposition is to a $ 3.5 trillion spending measure that encompasses many items on President Joe Biden’s agenda and that is exempt from the normal 60-vote Senate threshold. Democrats can pass it without any GOP support, and an increase in the limit should be tied to this bill, Republicans argue.
Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said Monday that his vote on raising the debt ceiling would be “absolutely no.”
“Democrats say they don’t need our votes to spend the money they want to spend, but they need our votes to pay for it,” Romney said. “This dog will not hunt.
Democratic whip Dick Durbin accused Republicans of being politically motivated in their opposition and said they did not take responsibility for their actions.
“I certainly hope Senator McConnell does not harm America and its economy through an act of political spite,” Durbin said. “If he doesn’t stand up and take responsibility for the things he and his members have stood for in the Trump administration, it shows that this is a totally political effort.”
But in a hurry to find out what the Democrats would do if the Republican opposition held out, Durbin was frank: “I don’t know”.
The House is expected to vote on Tuesday to raise the debt limit and fund the government, after the Rules Committee considers the matter. Schumer said Democrats in the Senate would hold a vote to increase the limit in the coming weeks, but without at least 10 Republicans to back the measure, there’s not much to do other than include it in the $ 3.5 trillion package. If the United States defaults on its debt in the coming weeks, this will be the first time in history that this has happened. The creditworthiness of the United States would suffer and the markets could be seriously affected.
At least one Republican, Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana, said he would vote with Democrats on the measure because it would include hurricane relief for his home state. However, he predicted that the bill would still fall short of 60 votes.
As they grapple with a looming government funding deadline and potential credit default, Democratic lawmakers also disagree on how to advance their $ 3.5 trillion social policy agenda and the deal. bipartite on Senate infrastructure.
Progressives have pledged to withhold votes in the House for the Senate infrastructure deal until their political demands are met for the larger package. But moderates in the House and Senate have threatened to sink Biden’s core set of policies on his scale and individual dispositions.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney, DN.Y., said of the to-do list in Congress. “I don’t know how this will end.”