Democratic leaders are pushing for a package that will combine a short-term government spending bill with a suspension of the U.S. debt limit, hoping to avert a looming shutdown of the government.
In a joint statement on Monday, Sept. 20, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that their legislation to avoid a government shutdown will include a suspension of the debt limit through Dec. 2022.
The top leaders in two Congress chambers said that they believe that timeline “would provide an amount of time commensurate with the debt incurred as a result of passing last winter’s bipartisan $908 billion emergency COVID relief legislation.” That legislation was approved by both parties and signed by former President Trump last December.
According to a report from Fox News, the move comes after 103 House Republicans vowed not to vote to increase the debt limit under any circumstance. Instead, they say that Democrats should “take responsibility for increasing the debt ceiling” because of their trillions in proposed government spending.
“Democrats have embarked on a massive and unprecedented deficit spending spree. 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,” the Republicans said in a letter on Aug. 30.
But in Monday’s joint statement, Pelosi and Schumer claimed that “Both Republicans and Democrats have priorities that they want to address in the regular order appropriations process for fiscal year 2022.” They added that the extension of government funding through December would provide reasonable time for that bipartisan, bicameral process to complete.
By combining the debt ceiling increase with the continuing resolution, the Democrat leaders are daring Republicans to sink the package and risk a government shutdown on Oct. 1.
Calling their package a “must-pass legislation,” Pelosi and Schumer said, “The American people expect our Republican colleagues to live up to their responsibilities and make good on the debts they proudly helped incur in the December 2020 ‘908’ COVID package that helped American families and small businesses reeling from the COVID crisis.”
But Republicans appear to be holding firm, telling Democrats that since they approved $3.5 trillion budget resolution without any Republican vote in favor, using the reconciliation process to bypass the filibuster in the Senate, they can go and try to do the same thing with the debt limit, according to New York Post.
“Since Democrats decided to go it alone, they will not get senate Republicans’ help with raising the debt limit. I’ve explained this clearly and consistently for over two months. We do not have a divided government, Democrats do not need our help,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor on Monday.
“They have every tool to address the debt limit on their own, the same party-line process they used to ram through inflationary spending in March and already plan to use once again this fall,” he said.
Congress has until Sept. 30 to pass legislation to avert a government shutdown.