McConnell gives break to Dems, will allow temporary debt ceiling suspension

By Casey Harper | The Center Square

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Wednesday afternoon that Republicans will allow Democrats a temporary reprieve by helping push back the debt ceiling deadline until December. This will give Democrats more time to pass a budget measure to avoid the major economic fallout of defaulting on federal debt payments.

“To protect the American people from a near-term Democrat-created crisis, we will also allow Democrats to use normal procedures to pass an emergency debt limit extension at a fixed dollar amount to cover current spending levels into December,” he said. “This will moot Democrats’ excuses about the time crunch they created and give the unified Democratic government more than enough time to pass standalone debt limit legislation through reconciliation.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., had pledged to vote on the debt ceiling this week, though that was in doubt. He had also lambasted Republicans for refusing to help raise the limit.

If the limit is not raised this month, the federal government would default on its debt payments, which would have major economic consequences. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said a debt default would lead to a recession.

“The U.S. has always paid its bills on time, but the overwhelming consensus among economists and Treasury officials of both parties is that failing to raise the debt limit would produce widespread economic catastrophe,” she wrote in an op-ed to the Wall Street Journal warning Congress.

Leading up to this week, McConnell has repeatedly pointed out that Democrats have the votes to pass an increase to the debt ceiling without Republican help.

“Democrats have embarked on a massive and unprecedented deficit spending spree,” McConnell said in a letter to President Joe Biden. “Without a single Republican vote, they passed a $1.9 trillion ‘Covid relief’ bill in March. Now they have passed a $3.5 trillion Budget Resolution, again without a single Republican vote.”

Biden and other Democrats, though, have criticized Republicans for withholding their votes on the ceiling.

“My Republican friends need to stop playing Russian roulette with the US economy,” Biden said. “If they don’t want to do the job, just get out of the way. We’ll take the heat. We’ll do it. We will do it. Let us do it. Let the Democrats vote to raise the debt limit without obstruction or any further delays.”

In recent years, it has been common for the minority party to refuse to help the majority party increase the national debt, as Biden did when he was a U.S. senator. As Democrats get right up on the deadline, though, McConnell announced he would help them get a temporary extension.

“The unified Democratic government had two and a half months to address the debt limit through reconciliation,” he said. “Instead, they drifted to the doorstep of yet another self-created Democratic crisis.”

McConnell went on to say Republicans may be willing to agree to a more substantive increase to the debt ceiling if Democrats drop their planned several trillion dollars in “human infrastructure” spending.

“Alternatively, if Democrats abandon their efforts to ram through another historically reckless taxing and spending spree that will hurt families and help China, a more traditional bipartisan governing conversation could be possible,” McConnell said.

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