Collins says 'some Republicans' might help on debt limit if Democrats ditch jobs plan


But Susan Collins still supports Senate Republicans' obstruction.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said Monday that she and other Senate Republicans might allow Democrats to avert a catastrophic default on the national debt — but only if they agree to abandon President Joe Biden's Build Back Better plan.

"Some Republicans would vote to raise the debt limit if they knew the Democrats were going to abandon the $3.5 trillion package," Collins told reporters, "which appears unlikely, but that's an agreement that could be reached."

The Senate GOP has been using the filibuster to block efforts by the Democratic majority to raise the debt limit, a statutory cap on how much money the nation can borrow to pay for spending already passed by Congress and the interest on its existing debt. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that without action by Oct. 18, the United States will default on its debt for the first time.

In 2019, a bipartisan majority passed legislation suspending the debt ceiling entirely for the remainder of President Donald Trump's term. That suspension expired at the end of July of this year.

The Democratic majority in the House tried to enact another temporary freeze in September as part of a package to avoid a partial government shutdown and fund disaster relief. Senate Republicans blocked the bill, instead demanding that Democrats raise the debt limit separately.

Collins, who had in previous years supported debt ceiling increases as vital to making "sure we don't default," backed her party's obstruction, saying she would support the funding but that the debt ceiling increase was "different."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell demanded Democrats pass a stand-alone debt ceiling measure, but do it without any GOP support. When Democrats tried, Republicans objected and insisted on wasting days of the Senate's time to raise the limit through a budget reconciliation process.

A recent analysis by Moody's Analytics predicted that failure to raise the debt ceiling would be calamitous for the U.S. economy. A default would fuel losses of up to 6 million jobs, lead to an unemployment rate of nearly 9%, and cost almost $15 trillion in household wealth.

Biden's Build Back Better plan would invest billions in clean energy, climate change, paid leave, affordable health care and child care, free preschool, and free community college. It would be funded by tax increases for corporations and those earning $400,000 or more annually.

According to the progressive Economic Policy Institute:

Combined, the IIJA and budget reconciliation package would provide fiscal support for more than 4 million jobs per year, on average, over the course of the 10-year budgeting window, through direct spending and increased indirect demand in related industries. ... On its own, the IIJA will provide fiscal support for 772,400 jobs per year, or 19% of the total jobs supported by the combined package. In comparison, the budget reconciliation is expected to support more than 3.2 million jobs per year, or 81% of the total jobs. The budget reconciliation's outsize economic impact flows from its more significant financial commitment to public investments.

Polls show wide popular support for the $3.5 trillion plan.

Collins won reelection last year calling herself "a centrist who believes in getting things done through compromise, collegiality, and bipartisanship." But since the start of her fifth term, she has repeatedly sided with her party and abandoned her stated moderate views.

Her latest comments come as House Republicans and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are also threatening to oppose the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act if Democrats also proceed with the Build Back Better agenda. That package would invest another $550 billion in transportation, water systems, broadband, and electric grid infrastructure.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.