Clyburn Says GOP Needs to ‘Belly Up to the Bar’ on Debt Ceiling
(Bloomberg) -- House Majority Whip James Clyburn said Republicans need to join with Democrats and “belly up to the bar” to pass an increase in the federal debt limit.
The No. 3 House Democrat also said in an interview Thursday on Bloomberg Television’s “Balance of Power with David Westin” that he’s confident Democrats will reconcile competing demands in their caucus and pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a broad tax and spending measure that will carry the bulk of President Joe Biden’s agenda.
“We know that we should not run the risk, of risking the full faith and credit of the United States of America,” the South Carolina Democrat said of the debt limit -- the total amount that the federal government is authorized to borrow. He said a major reason the limit needs to be raised is the debt incurred during the Trump administration, including the 2017 Republican tax cuts.
“We did not pay for that tax cut. We borrowed the money to pay for that tax cut,” Clyburn said. Of Republicans, he added, “If they had enough gumption to do the tax cut, they ought to have enough honor to pay for it.”
The limit snapped back into place at the beginning of August after the expiration of a two-year suspension. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly said Democrats will have to raise the debt ceiling on their own without GOP votes. The Bipartisan Policy Center has estimated a payment default in mid-October to mid-November as extraordinary Treasury accounting measures run out.
Clyburn said Democrats in the House and Senate are discussing next steps for the massive package that would raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy and expand social programs. A separate Senate-passed measure with $550 billion in new spending for roads, bridges and highways also awaits House action.
“I don’t know how close I am to getting the votes, but we now have something to work with,” said Clyburn, referring to committee work this week that advanced the larger of the two components of the Biden agenda, an expansive $3.5 trillion package.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi along with Clyburn and other members of party leadership are dealing with sometimes competing demands from Democratic progressives and moderates on priorities and even the sequence of votes on the two measures.
“You can’t vote on both bills at the same time,” Clyburn said. “I’m not going to get hung up on which one is voted on first.”
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