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Democrats Unveil Plans To Tie Debt Limit Suspension To Spending Bill

Democratic congressional leaders on Monday unveiled plans to tie the suspension of the nation’s debt limit to a spending bill that would also fund the government through the end of the year after the current budget lapses on September 30.

The fate of the plan is unclear since Republicans have vowed to withhold support for raising the debt ceiling, which is needed to fund spending already approved by lawmakers, including the massive rescue packages rolled out during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The American people expect our Republican colleagues to live up to their responsibilities and make good on the debts they proudly helped incur,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a joint statement.

They warned that “a reckless Republican-forced default could plunge the country into a recession.”

The measure would suspend the debt limit through December 2022 – after the midterm congressional elections.

It also would keep the government running through the end of the year while legislators continue to debate two massive spending bills – $1.2 trillion infrastructure package and a $3.5 trillion package with a host of social programs, largely paid for by rolling back tax cuts.

Schumer and Pelosi said the measure unveiled on Monday would avoid “an unnecessary government shutdown” and called it “must-pass legislation.”

It will also include funds for disaster relief and Afghan evacuee resettlement, with the White House asking for $20 billion for hurricane and wildfire aid and $6 billion for tens of thousands of Afghan refugees.

“We look forward to passing this crucial legislation with bipartisan support through both chambers and sending it to the president’s desk in the coming weeks,” they said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed that Republicans will not vote to raise the debt ceiling.

“They just want bipartisan cover so they can pivot as fast as possible to ramming through an historically reckless taxing and spending spree on a pure party-line vote,” he said on Twitter.

That is a stark contrast from his position in 2019, when President Donald Trump was in office, and McConnell argued that failing to raise the borrowing cap “would be a disaster.”

Schumer called McConnell’s current stance “crass, craven.”

“Shame, shame on the Republican Leader,” he said in comments on the Senate floor. After pushing for tax cuts, pandemic spending and previous increases in the debt ceiling “what Republicans are doing is nothing short of a dine-and-dash of historic proportions”.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called on Congress to raise the debt ceiling in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Sunday, warning that if the US defaults on its debt, it “could trigger a spike in interest rates, a steep drop in stock prices and other financial turmoil.”

 

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