“I can’t believe the Republicans will let the nation default,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer at a news conference.
The federal government will likely run out of cash by October or November unless Congress raises the country’s borrowing limit, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Democrats say they shouldn’t be forced to shoulder the burden of the politically toxic vote themselves, especially given the debt that was piled up during the Trump administration. Former President Donald Trump increased the debt by almost $7.8 trillion in office, but only a small minority of Republicans opposed his massive tax cuts and government spending during the pandemic.
But Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed that Democrats “won’t get our help” to raise the debt limit, even though failing to do so risks tanking the economy.
Most Republicans on Capitol Hill have sharply criticized Democrats for passing a $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill, $550 billion in new federal funding to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, and for proposing to spend trillions more to strengthen the social safety net — and are deeply reluctant to raise the debt limit allowing the US to honor its obligations.
“They won’t get our help with the debt limit increase that these reckless plans will require,” said McConnell last week. “They control the White House. They control the House. They control the Senate. They can raise the debt ceiling and if it’s raised, they will do it.”
Senate Democrats decided not to pair their $3.5 trillion budget with raising the borrowing limit, even though that process would have allowed them to extend it without Republican support.
Schumer noted Wednesday the White House and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen want to raise the debt ceiling in a bipartisan fashion, and that the Senate’s rules for passing a budget “limits what you can do there, and doing it outside gives you more flexibility.”
“It has always been bipartisan to deal with the debt ceiling,” said Schumer, pointing out that Democrats joined former President Trump to do so.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also dug in on Wednesday, saying it is up to both parties to pay the country’s bills.
Pelosi told House Democrats on a private call, “this is Trump’s money,” according to a source familiar with it.
“This is paying for his tax scam, this is paying for COVID, a responsibility we all share,” Pelosi said. “For Republicans to say they will never do it is typically irresponsible.”