Senate Republicans upset they got called out for nearly tanking the economy

860

The party that would have allowed a debt default thinks Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer shouldn't have been so 'partisan' about it.

Senate Republicans angrily denounced Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday night for a speech calling them out for nearly forcing an unprecedented national default. They claimed his speech was too "partisan."

"There's a time to be graceful & there's a time to be combative, and that was the time for grace," scolded Utah Sen. Mitt Romney after the Senate narrowly averted a debt crisis of the GOP's own making.

"I thought was totally out of line," Senate Minority Whip John Thune told an NBC News reporter. "I just thought it was incredibly partisan speech after we had just helped them solve a problem. I let them have it."

"I thought it was unnecessarily partisan," agreed Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.

"Classless speech," South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds told CNN.

They were upset at Schumer for his floor remarks — made after 11 Republicans joined all 50 Democrats in voting to advance a stopgap measure to raise the debt limit for the next several weeks — in which the New York Democrat accused them of almost forcing a "first-ever Republican-manufactured default on the national debt."

"Republicans played a dangerous and risky partisan game, and I am glad that their brinkmanship did not work," he said. "For the good of America's families, for the good of our economy, Republicans must recognize in the future they should approach fixing the debt limit in a bipartisan way.”

For weeks, congressional Democrats have been trying to pass legislation to raise the statutory debt limit — a cap on how much money the nation can borrow to pay for appropriations already enacted by Congress and for interest on the existing national debt — before an Oct. 18 default.

Many Republicans had backed bipartisan legislation to raise — and even temporarily suspend — the debt limit during Donald Trump's administration. But now, with a Democrat in the White House, they announced they would refuse to vote to do the same, saying that the Democratic majority would have to address the debt on its own even as trillions of the current debt came from GOP-pushed spending and tax cuts in recent decades.

First, Senate Republicans blocked a House-passed package in September that would have avoided a partial government shutdown, funded disaster relief, and temporarily frozen the debt limit until December 2022.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted that Democrats must pass a standalone debt limit measure and do so without a single GOP vote.

Then, he and his party refused to let them do so, blocking attempts to do it without a 60-vote supermajority. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) suggested that maybe "some Republicans" might back a debt limit increase — but only if Democrats abandoned their Build Back Better jobs package entirely.

Experts warned that a default would have calamitous impacts on the U.S. economy. A Moody's Analytics report estimated it would mean up to 6 million lost jobs, roughly $15 trillion in reduced household wealth, and an unemployment spike from about 5% to 9%.

With just a few days left, McConnell blinked on Wednesday and agreed to allow a short-term increase.

On Thursday, the Senate voted 61-38 to invoke cloture and permit a vote on the temporary compromise, raising the cap by $480 billion. With that small increase, Congress will likely be faced with another debt crisis by December.

Romney did even vote for cloture on the bill or final passage.

Other Republicans who attacked Schumer's comments voted to advance the bill but then voted against its passage. Indeed, not a single Senate Republican backed the actual legislation, which passed 50-48.

The temporary debt legislation now moves to the House of Representatives, where the Democratic majority is expected to approve it on Tuesday.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.