McConnell: Democrats “won’t get our help” to raise debt ceiling
WASHINGTON – Republicans will oppose the increase in the federal debt limit if Democrats continue with their 10-year, $ 3.5 trillion plan to strengthen social and environmental programs, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday.
The Kentucky Republican threat was the most explicit there has been about his desire to force Democrats to take the politically unpopular step of unilaterally renewing the government’s borrowing power or reducing President Joe Biden’s domestic policy agenda.
His remarks suggest that another high-stakes budget showdown between the two parties, with the government’s financial strength at stake, could be in the offing. The party that does not control the White House often uses such moments to seek leverage, such as when Republicans pressured President Barack Obama to strike a spending cut deal in 2011.
The government’s ability to borrow money to finance its operations expired on August 1, when a two-year temporary suspension of borrowing limits expired. The Treasury Department has used accounting measures since to keep the government afloat, but the non-partisan Congressional budget office has predicted that such actions will only suffice until October or November.
If the government loses access to new money, it could lead to a federal default, which has never happened. Analysts said this could seriously hurt the economy, possibly in the long run, forcing federal interest rates and borrowing costs.
Last month, McConnell said he couldn’t “imagine a single Republican” voting to raise the spending limit in an environment of “free for all for taxes and expenses”.
Thursday it was more explicit. His remarks came days before Democrats plan to start pushing through a budget resolution outlining their $ 3.5 trillion national agenda in the Senate. Republicans are ready to oppose this resolution unanimously.
“If our colleagues are to embark on another tax and reckless spending frenzy without our contribution, if they want all of that spending and debt to be their signature heirloom, they should jump at the chance to own it. every parcel, âMcConnell said on the Senate floor.
âLet me be perfectly clear: if they don’t need or want our contribution, they won’t get our help. They won’t get our help with the increased debt limit that these reckless plans will require, âhe said.
Democrats only control the Senate 50-50 with the decisive vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. On most bills, Republicans filibuster to force Democrats to get 60 votes to end delaying tactics. McConnell’s comments indicated that GOP senators would not provide the necessary support.
Legislation renewing the government’s ability to borrow money does not result in any new debt and simply pays for spending and tax breaks already enacted.
Democrats are not without options, but none are risk-free and they have yet to decide what to do.
At least for now, it seems unlikely that they will scale back their plans to bolster the education, health and environmental programs that are the backbone of Biden’s political aspirations. But some moderate Democrats are reluctant to vote to renew federal borrowing powers without at least some GOP support.
They could reinsert language suspending the debt limit in a bill that Congress will need to approve by October 1, the start of the government’s new fiscal year, to keep agencies open. That would force Republicans to decide whether to provide the necessary votes for a bill that, if defeated, could cause the government to default and shut its doors.
Democrats could include provisions raising or suspending the debt limit in the $ 3.5 trillion bill they plan to write this fall, which would enact specific tax and spending changes envisioned in their resolution. budgetary. Democrats plan to use special procedures to protect this bill from GOP obstruction, but it might not be ready until the Treasury exhausts its accounting tricks.
The current government debt ceiling is $ 28.4 trillion. Federal borrowing has increased at record rates as part of programs to support the economy affected by the pandemic.