Joe Biden wants to raise the debt ceiling, and he’s blaming the GOP for not playing ball.
Senate Republicans have refused to give the Democrats enough votes to overcome a filibuster on legislation that would suspend the debt limit until after the 2022 midterms. But Mitch McConnell says the GOP won’t support raising the debt ceiling when the Democrats’ ultimate goal is to pass Biden’s $3.5 trillion social spending bill on a party-line vote. “There is no chance, no chance the Republican conference will go out of our way to help Democrats conserve their time and energy so they can resume ramming through partisan socialism as fast as possible,” McConnell said.
“Not only are Republicans refusing to do their job, but they’re threatening to use their power to prevent us from doing our job — saving the economy from a catastrophic event,” Biden said Monday. “I think quite frankly it’s hypocritical, dangerous and disgraceful.”
According to Biden, a meteor is “headed to crash into our economy,” and “Democrats are willing to do all the work stopping it.”
“Republicans just have to let us do our job; just get out of the way,” Biden insists.
There’s just one problem. Joe Biden doesn’t need any Republican support to make it happen.
According to the Senate parliamentarian, Democrats can raise the debt ceiling via the budget-reconciliation process—and do so without any Republican support.
So, why is Biden blaming Republicans? Through reconciliation, it would only take simple majorities in both the House and Senate to get it done—which Biden has.
“Bipartisanship is not a light switch that Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer may flip on to borrow money and flip off to spend it,” McConnell wrote in a letter to Biden. “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.”
But McConnell wasn’t done schooling Biden. “As you and I know from shared Senate experience, this is not unusual,” his letter continued. “The debt limit is often a partisan vote during times of unified government. In 2003, 2004, and 2006, Mr. President, you joined Senate Democrats in opposing debt limit increases and made Republicans do it ourselves. You explained on the Senate floor that your ‘no’ votes did not mean you wanted the majority to let the country default, but rather that the President’s party had to take responsibility for a policy agenda which you opposed. Your view then is our view now.”
McConnell’s letter continues:
There is one difference between then and now: Leader Schumer requested and won new powers to repeatedly reuse the fast-track, party-line reconciliation process. As a result, Senate Democrats do not need Republican cooperation in any shape or form to do their job. Democrats do not need our consent to set a vote at 51 instead of 60. 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. As I have warned for months, this is the path they will need to take.
Congressional Democrats have wasted weeks complaining that this relatively brief process would inconvenience their floor schedules. Mr. President, as you know as a Senate veteran, that is not an excuse; it is just a complaint. Republicans will not build Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer a shortcut around procedural hurdles they can clear on their own so they have a more convenient path to jam us with a partisan taxing and spending spree.
Mr. President, I have relayed this reality to your Democratic lieutenants for two and a half months. My concern for our country is that Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi have done nothing. Either the Democratic leaders simply cannot govern or they would rather play chicken with the U.S. economy than accept reality.
McConnell is clearly on to something here. Democrats have had the power to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling without Republicans, but have chosen not to. Why? Polls on the issue show Americans are divided on raising the debt ceiling, and it’s debatable whether the public really understands the issue at all. But Biden and the Democrats clearly don’t want to bear the full responsibility for raising the debt ceiling despite the precedent McConnell pointed out in his letter. When Democrats don’t want to accept responsibility for their own objectives, we have every reason to be suspicious.