The Democratic-controlled House passed a bill to raise the debt ceiling through 2022 and temporarily fund the government until December 3.
But the measure has to be passed by the Senate as well, and Republicans in the upper chamber have dug in and refuse to budge on supporting either a debt increase or a continuing resolution funding the government.
For the GOP, it’s a question of enabling the Democrats’ wildly irresponsible spending plans. Joe Biden has proposed a budget package that would appropriate $3.5 trillion in the largest expansion of social programs since the 1970s.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Republicans appear ready to take the issue to the edge of the fiscal cliff.
“I will not support signing a blank check as this majority is advancing the most reckless expansion of government in generations,” said Rep. Dan Meuser (R-Pa.).
In addition to the universal feeling among Republicans that the Democrats are being reckless, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell clearly wants the political blame to fall on Democrats for pushing the issue.
“The debt ceiling will be raised as it always should be, but it will be raised by the Democrats,” McConnell said.
McConnell and most other Republicans believe that if the Democrats want to ram a $3.5 trillion spending package down Republicans’ throats using the hyperpartisan reconciliation legislative tool to pass it, they have to take responsibility for all of it — including the increase in debt.
The Treasury Department has been using “extraordinary measures” to fund the government since the last debt limit suspension expired July 31, and projects that at some point next month will run out cash reserves. Then, it will have to rely on incoming receipts to pay its obligations, now at $28.4 trillion. That could force the Treasury to delay or miss payments, a devastating situation.
Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, warned if lawmakers allow a federal debt default “this economic scenario is cataclysmic.”
In a report being circulated by Democrats, Zandi warned that a potential downturn from government funding cutbacks would cost 6 million jobs and stock market losses would wipe out $15 trillion of household wealth.
Whether that scenario comes to pass or not, the blame would fall squarely on the shoulders of the Democrats. They have the votes — barely, but they have them. It’s time for them to man up (sorry, my feminist friends) and do what has to be done.
The debt limit and temporary funding bill have been inevitably mixed in with the $3.5 trillion spending package, complicating everything. By linking all three issues, Republicans have presented a nearly insoluble problem for Biden. There is likely to be major movement in the next few days–namely, the trimming of the Build Back Better bill, perhaps cutting it in half, and a possible vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed the Senate over the summer but has yet to be acted on by the House.
Radicals are holding the infrastructure bill hostage, demanding the $3.5 trillion budget bill be voted on first. That’s not going to happen. The bill is just too big and too complicated to get done before the deadline of September 27 to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill agreed to by Nancy Pelosi and moderate House Democrats.
It’s all falling apart for Biden and the Democratic leadership on the Hill. At this point, no one — least of all Joe Biden — can see a way forward that saves his agenda and his party.