Senate Leaders Spar Over Raising The Debt Ceiling

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The debate over the debt ceiling is heating up again on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers are facing another key deadline in just a few weeks.

As congressional Democrats forge ahead on their proposed $3.5 trillion spending plan to shore up the nation’s social safety net, a new challenge: to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its debt, and to avoid a government shutdown by the end of the month.

“To prevent both of these from happening, it while require bipartisan cooperation,” said Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

“Let me be crystal clear about this: Republicans are united in opposition to raising the debt ceiling,” said Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

So, here is where things stand. The Treasury Department says by not raising the debt ceiling, the federal government will be unable to pay its bills at some point in October. Democrats need Republican support to do that if they want to avoid a GOP filibuster. They also hope to pass that $3.5 trillion spending plan – which is part of the budget – by the end of September without Republican support.

“So, if they want to do all of this on a partisan basis, they have the ability and the responsibility to ensure that the federal government not default,” McConnell said.

Most recently, in 2019, Congress suspended the debt ceiling. That deal ended in July. Now, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle fear defaulting on the national debt will damage the country’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

“Three times, Democrats voted when Trump was president to renew the debt ceiling,” Schumer said. “We didn’t play games, we didn’t risk the credit of the country, we did it. And that’s been the history.”

Democrats could add a debt ceiling agreement to their budget plan. But, some Democrats remain concerned about the impact the $3.5 trillion plan will have on the national debt, so raising the debt ceiling could face opposition from within their own party.

“I’m not willing to do an unconditional vote on (raising the debt ceiling),” said Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii), a member of the House Appropriations Committee and of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, during a July 28 interview. “I think other members feel the same way.”


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