McConnell Tells Biden GOP Won’t Cooperate on Debt Limit
(Bloomberg) -- Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told President Joe Biden he should pressure Democratic leaders in Congress to go ahead and raise the debt limit on their own because the GOP won’t cooperate.
In a letter to Biden Monday, McConnell demanded that the president “engage directly with congressional Democrats on this matter” and said Republicans will not be changing their position.
“Bipartisanship is not a light switch that Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer can flip on to borrow money and flip off to spend it,” McConnell wrote, referring to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. “Republicans’ position is simple. We have no list of demands. For two and a half months, we have simply warned that since your party wishes to govern alone, it must handle the debt limit alone as well.”
Biden plans to speak on Monday on the need for Congress to address the debt ceiling.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the government will run out of cash by around Oct. 18 but other observers see a week or two longer. Senate Republicans have twice blocked Democrats from moving legislation to raise the debt ceiling. McConnell wants Democrats to use the reconciliation process to pass it on their own as they are doing with an expansive tax and spending package to carry out much of Biden’s agenda.
Budget experts say that process, which wouldn’t be subject to a filibuster, would take at least two weeks to complete, and Schumer has said Democrats won’t take that course.
Schumer on Monday showed that his position hasn’t changed as well, with a political game of chicken escalating between the two parties. In a letter to all Senate Democrats, Schumer reiterated that he will try to advance legislation to the Senate floor this week that would suspend the debt ceiling until December 2022, a speedier method of raising the borrowing limit.
“Let me be clear about the task ahead of us: we must get a bill to the President’s desk dealing with the debt limit by the end of the week, period,” Schumer wrote.
It would take 60 votes to succeed at this effort, and the Senate is split 50-50 between the two parties. McConnell said Republicans won’t support that effort to lift the borrowing limit, as Democrats did several times in the early 2000s when the GOP controlled the Senate.
“Nonpartisan experts confirm that Senate Democrats have every necessary tool to pass a standalone debt limit increase through reconciliation and enough time to do it before late October,” McConnell wrote in his letter to Biden. “As I have warned for months, this is the path they will need to take.”
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