GOP demands Democrats raise debt ceiling without their help — and then won't let them


Senate Republicans are stonewalling Democrats' efforts to stave off economic calamity.

Senate Democrats on Tuesday announced they will acquiesce to GOP demands that they raise the debt ceiling on their own, without any Republican votes in favor. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that Democrats will seek consent to pass an increase with a 50-vote majority.

"It's a straightforward proposition: If Republicans really want to see the debt ceiling raised without providing a single vote, I'm prepared to hold that vote," Schumer said Tuesday in a speech on the Senate floor. "I can't imagine the Republican Leader would object to his own request."

But even though this is what Republicans have been demanding for weeks, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed not to provide a single GOP vote to increase the debt ceiling, Republicans now say they won't agree to Schumer's proposal.

"They're using their floor time for purely partisan bills and stuff I don't agree with, so why would we make their job any easier?" Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told reporters on Tuesday.

Instead, Republicans want Democrats to use budget reconciliation, a more complicated procedure that Democrats say is too time-consuming and wouldn't be completed before the debt ceiling is reached.

Moody's Analytics said a default by the United States on its national debt would have "cataclysmic" effects on the economy. It projected that 6 million people could lose their jobs, $15 trillion in household wealth could be wiped out, and the United States' credit could face lasting damage.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has been warning for weeks that the country is about to reach its borrowing limit, and has been urging Congress to swiftly pass an increase.

"In recent years Congress has addressed the debt limit through regular order, with broad bipartisan support," Yellen said in August. "Congress should do so again now by increasing or suspending the debt limit on a bipartisan basis."

On Tuesday, Yellen gave a hard Oct. 18 deadline for when the United States' borrowing limit will expire, testifying before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, "It is imperative that Congress swiftly addresses the debt limit. If it does not, America would default for the first time in history. The full faith and credit of the United States would be impaired, and our country would likely face a financial crisis and economic recession."

The Democratic-controlled House passed a bill last week that would fund the government on a short-term basis and raise the debt ceiling, but when Schumer brought that bill to a vote on Monday, Republicans blocked it in a unanimous vote.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell then falsely claimed that Democrats weren't working to raise the debt ceiling.

"Democrats in Congress aren't acting with urgency," McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday. "The Senate spends day after day on mid-level nominations. And our colleagues spend all their time in back-room talks over partisan plans. While their basic duties sit in limbo. So far, Democrats' partisan ambitions have taken precedence over basic governance. That needs to change. According to their own Treasury Secretary, they have a few weeks to get moving."

It's unclear what will happen now that Republicans plan to block a debt ceiling increase yet again.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) pointed out the absurdity of the competing demands with a parody of GOP talking points.

"'The nation must not default, which is why I'm voting for default. Further, if the Democrats try to avoid default I will filibuster that because of cancel culture. Press conference over.'" Schatz tweeted.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.