Pelosi tries to hold line as Democrats start to crack on debt ceiling standoff
H ouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi pressured her caucus to keep insisting on a bipartisan vote to increase the debt ceiling as some high-ranking Democrats in the House start to entertain raising the limit without Republican support.
Asked on CNN Sunday if he would be fine with Democrats passing a debt ceiling increase with only Democratic support, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina said: “No, I'm not fine with that.”
But he added: “If that's what it takes, that's what it will take. The American people will see what the Republicans are doing on this front as well. ... I think we ought to do what's necessary and message to the American people exactly who is trying to destroy this great democracy that we hope to keep in place.”
Kentucky Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth, chairman of the House Budget Committee, also opened the door to increasing the debt ceiling alone.
“Ultimately, they’re going to have to vote for it or we’re going to have to have a vote and do it by ourselves,” Yarmuth said on MSNBC Sunday. “We can do it through reconciliation. Leadership has said they don’t want to do that. The reason is if we do that through reconciliation, we actually have to specify a number.”
Pelosi in a “Dear Colleague” letter sent Sunday night refocused attention on urging bipartisan support for increasing the debt ceiling.
"When we take up the debt limit this month, we expect it to be bipartisan once more," Pelosi said. "The debt limit is a shared responsibility, and I urge Congress to come together, in that spirit, on a bipartisan basis as it has in the past to protect the full faith and credit of the United States."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has put his foot down on the debt ceiling, saying that if Democrats pursue their go-it-alone $3.5 trillion social programs reconciliation bill, Senate Republicans will not vote to raise the debt limit as part of a continuing resolution or any other bill that requires support from at least 10 Republicans to clear the Senate filibuster.
“If they want to do all of this on a partisan basis, they have the ability and the responsibility to ensure that the federal government not default,” McConnell said.
His stance has peeved Democrats, who note that they voted in favor of raising the debt ceiling while former President Donald Trump was in office despite Republicans passing measures that added to the debt limit that they did not support.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen sent a letter to congressional leaders earlier this month saying that the Treasury is set to run out of borrowing authority during the month of October and warning of catastrophic consequences if it does.
“We have learned from past debt limit impasses that waiting until the last minute to suspend or increase the debt limit can cause serious harm to business and consumer confidence, raise short-term borrowing costs for taxpayers, and negatively impact the credit rating of the United States,” Yellen said. “A delay that calls into question the federal government’s ability to meet all its obligations would likely cause irreparable damage to the U.S. economy and global financial markets.”
The federal fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, and the House Rules Committee will soon take up a continuing resolution to continue funding government agencies at current levels until Congress finalizes fiscal year 2023 levels. Democrats could add a debt ceiling increase to that legislation, and if Republicans are united in voting against it, it could trigger a government shutdown if Democrats do not act alone.
Democrats also have the option of bringing the debt ceiling increase as a stand-alone measure or attaching it to another bill.
Republicans, though, could vote in favor of the debt ceiling increase if Democrats abandon their $3.5 trillion reconciliation plan over an inability to get support from all Senate Democrats. Opposition from centrist Democrats such as West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who has floated delaying a vote on the measure until 2022, makes the future of the sweeping proposal unclear.
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