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McConnell admits he's running out the clock on debt ceiling to undermine Biden agenda

Senate Republicans are wasting as much time as possible to thwart Democrats’ plans.

By Josh Israel - September 29, 2021
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

Senate Republicans thwarted Democrats’ effort to raise the debt ceiling and avert a catastrophic default on the national debt on Tuesday.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell explained why Republicans are going to such great lengths to risk sending the U.S. into another recession: to waste time.

“There is no chance the Republican conference will go out of our way to help Democrats conserve their time and energy so they can resume ramming through partisan socialism as fast as possible,” the Kentucky Republican said in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday.

With the nation set to reach its statutory debt limit in just a few weeks, the House passed a bill to suspend the limit until December 2022 and keep the government running for the next 10 weeks.

While Republicans have acknowledged a default would be bad for the U.S. economy, McConnell and his allies in Congress have argued that Democrats are solely responsible for raising the debt ceiling without a single GOP vote. They blocked consideration of the House bill and demanded a lengthy budget reconciliation process that would take at least a week of the Senate’s floor time.

With 65 weeks remaining in this session of Congress, McConnell’s strategy is apparently to run out the clock and hope that the Democratic majority will not have time to enact the agenda it and President Joe Biden won on in the 2020 elections.

The GOP’s playbook of obstruction for obstruction’s sake has been on display since the first days of Biden’s presidency and was fully on display during former President Barack Obama’s eight years in office.

In January, the Senate GOP spent a full month filibustering the organizing resolution that allowed Democrats to take control of committees. This allowed the minority to stall¬†confirmation for Biden’s Cabinet nominees for weeks and undermine a smooth transition.

In March, Republicans insisted on wasting hours of time during consideration of the American Rescue Plan, even forcing Senate staffers to read the entire bill aloud for hours on end just to delay its enactment.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has said he would like to see Senate business stalled indefinitely.

“I’m hoping for infinity [amendments]. There are people talking about trying to set up a schedule and having it go on and on,” Paul told Politico in March. “I don’t really want it to pass, so infinity would be a good answer.”

Recently, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) said he would force the Senate to spend hours on the confirmation of every single State or Defense Department nominee unless Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and national security adviser Jake Sullivan all resigned. Almost none of Biden’s ambassadorial picks have been confirmed to date.

House Republicans have employed a similar strategy by repeatedly forcing lengthy roll call votes on whether to adjourn in the middle of the work week.

If Republicans in Congress can run out the clock over the next year and block anything from getting done, they can then accuse Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections of failing to deliver on their legislative promises.

In addition to thwarting the policies Americans voted for, the Republicans’ debt limit obstruction could also tank the U.S. economy.

A Moody’s Analytics report released last Tuesday predicted a debt default would cost the economy about 6 million jobs and $15 trillion in household wealth.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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