- Republicans are set to thwart Democrats’ efforts to avert a government’s failure.
- It seems likely that Democrats will have to lift the debt ceiling on their own through a conciliation law.
- Some Republican senators are ready to work out the process of inflicting pain on Democrats.
Republicans are blocking Democrats ‘attempts to renew the United States’ ability to pay its bills and pushing the United States closer to the brink of default.
Congress has only 16 days to raise or suspend the debt ceiling to avoid what could be a catastrophic hit for the economy, ranging from delays in social security checks to the elderly, turmoil in financial markets and cuts in safety net programs such as unemployment insurance and Medicaid. World confidence in the dollar would fade. Interest rates will rise, lifting mortgage loans, car loans and credit card payments. The rating agency S&P would reduce its rating to the worst possible rank as D.
Raising the debt ceiling allows the U.S. government to pay back what it owes, and the limit had to be raised this year regardless of Biden’s spending plans. Democrats are pushing Republicans to help raise it, arguing that both parties have raised an additional $ 7.8 trillion in new debt under the Trump administration. Republicans also raised or suspended the debt limit three times under President Donald Trump.
Now that Biden is in office, the GOP is turning the corner, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is leading the GOP drive to demand that Democrats lift the limit on their own and escalate efforts to undermine President Joe Biden’s national agenda.
Democrats’ attempts to shame McConnell into giving up have not succeeded so far. At the same time, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday that Democrats “can not and will not” use budget reconciliation to address the issue.
The clock is ticking with no sign of a solution to the stalemate.
Republicans are ready for a salvo of time-consuming changes
Although Schumer is changing his mind, some Republicans are preparing to pull the process out to inflict maximum pain on Democrats when they begin negotiating changes to a $ 3.5 trillion package on social spending. They will have many opportunities to do this, as the Democrats’ best bid to raise the ceiling on their own is reconciliation, a cumbersome, time-consuming procedure governed by strict budget rules. It also allows certain bills to be passed by only a 50-vote majority.
Some experts say it would take at least two weeks for an increase in the party’s debt limit to succeed. Part of that includes the so-called vote-a-rama, which forces lawmakers to take politically unpleasant votes back to their backs in an event that could last for more than 12 hours.
Some Republicans already expect to delay an increase in the debt limit for Democrats with their own changes.
“We plan to use the rules and also to curb a lot of really bad policies that will change the country forever,” Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a close ally of McConnell, told Insider. “I do not mind seeing them burn any floor time on reconciliation, so that makes it less likely that they can pass their reckless expense bill.”
“If we have another vote-a-rama, I’m sure I want some amendments at that point. I do not at that point. We will cross that bridge when we get there,” said Senator Mitt Romney. from Utah told Insider.
Others are less secure but still do not plan to make reconciliation easier. If Democrats continue with a reconciliation effort, “there will be changes, as there always are,” Senator Ted Cruz told Insider, adding that Democrats will inevitably “be able to pass what they can get 50 votes to do.”
“My personal interest is not to make the process more difficult. I do not want to make it easier because [Democrats] already have all the tools and authorities they need to do it themselves from start to finish, ”Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota told Insider.
Another rule in the process could reap political benefits for Republicans and get some Democrats twisting in the middle of next year. Reconciliation is likely to require Democrats to attach a specific debt ceiling to demonstrate that it has an impact on the federal budget.
“[Democrats] need to put a number to it, “Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin told Insider. They need to show the American public how much they need to increase the debt ceiling to meet their deficit expenses. Therefore, they have to use reconciliation. “
The threat of a protracted vote-a-rama would probably not be enough to kill Democrats’ efforts. A wave of amendments would probably only delay the final vote, and Schumer is unlikely to bring a bill to the floor if he is not positive that Democrats agree to raise the ceiling.
Some are already breaking with democratic leaders and urging their party to take unilateral action perhaps as early as next week.
“Dems have all the handles. Although [Republicans] wanting to flirt with default, we will not allow it, “Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine told Insider, arguing that Democrats should not wait until the 11th hour and should” just do it “alone.
Yet it can cement the debt ceiling as more of a political bludgeon than a tool to meet financial obligations. Raising the border had long been a bipartisan effort and has been successfully drawn 78 times since 1960. Republicans even enjoyed some Democratic support when they moved to suspend the ceiling in 2017.
This precedent now seems to be on its last legs. And with the debt ceiling still intact, Congress risks another last-minute showdown with major efforts.