McConnell’s threat prompted outrage from top Democrats, warning the GOP leader is playing a dangerous game that could tank the US economy. Republicans argue that it’s not uncommon for the majority party to shoulder the burden for increasing the debt limit, a politically toxic vote for lawmakers up for reelection.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer blasted McConnell in remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday morning, calling them “shameless, cynical and totally political.”
“This debt is Trump debt,” Schumer added. “It’s Covid debt. Democrats joined three times during the Trump administration to do the responsible thing and the bottom line is that Leader McConnell should not be playing political games with the full faith and credit of the United States. Americans pay their debts.”
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois and Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden of Oregon also criticized McConnell’s comments on Wednesday.
“Mitch McConnell is playing Russian Roulette with this economy,” Durbin said. “It is totally irresponsible, underline irresponsible.”
Wyden added, “I want it understood as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, I am not going to let anybody take our economy hostage.”
Options for the debt ceiling
While Congress is facing an August deadline for the debt ceiling, the Treasury Department has several methods available to delay the effects of the debt ceiling limit until the fall, as the fiscal year ends on September 30.
Senate Democrats could try to advance a vote to raise the debt ceiling along straight party lines before the August recess under the chamber’s rules, according to two Senate sources with knowledge of the process.
Congress would first have to pass a budget resolution before it could pass a reconciliation package along straight party lines. Democrats plan to vote on the budget resolution this month.
Democratic leaders have not said if they would seek to split up the reconciliation bill — or do it all in one package.
But the more likely scenario is that Democrats could tie the debt ceiling to a must-pass funding bill at the end of September, which would force Republicans to decide if they’d want to vote to default and shut down the government at the same time.
If Democrats did include the debt ceiling increase in reconciliation, lawmakers would need to choose what the new borrowing limit should be in the legislation given the special budget rules.
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