Former President Donald Trump urged Senate Republicans on Tuesday to use the looming debt ceiling deadline to pressure Democrats into abandoning the White House’s roughly $1.75 trillion social welfare bill.
Mr. Trump, a leading figure of the GOP, prodded Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to refuse any efforts to hike the debt ceiling even at the risk of a default on U.S. debts.
“Old Crow Mitch McConnell, who is getting beaten on every front by the radical left Democrats since giving them a two-month delay which allowed them to ‘get their act together,’ must be fully prepared to use the DEBT CEILING in order to totally kill the Democrat’s new social spending (Wasting!) bill, which will change our country forever,” said Mr. Trump in a statement.
He has long been a fierce critic of Mr. McConnell.
The former president argued that by weaponizing the debt ceiling, Republicans could pressure Democrats into choosing between paying federal debts and passing President Biden’s massive social welfare and climate bill.
“Use the debt ceiling, Mitch, show strength and courage,” he added. “Our country is being destroyed.”
The debt limit is currently set at $28.9 trillion and the Treasury is using “extraordinary measures” to reshuffle cash and keep the government solvent. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the government will reach the debt limit on Dec. 15.
If Congress does not raise the debt ceiling in time, the Treasury will be forced to decide which bills get paid and which don’t get paid.
Mr. Trump’s statement came one day after Sen. Joe Manchin III admitted publicly Democrats were weighing a GOP offer to strike a deal to raise the debt limit.
“I understand that Sen. [Majority Leader Charles E.] Schumer and Sen. McConnell have been speaking about this or maybe trying to find a pathway forward and hopefully we’ll find one,” said Mr. Manchin, West Virginia Democrat. “I think that it’s our responsibility to make sure that we take care of the debt ceiling. Democrats are now in control, so we want to make sure that we do it and do it right.”
Under the proposal, which is the brainchild of Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Democrats would use the budget reconciliation process to raise the debt ceiling. Reconciliation, which Democrats are using in an effort to pass Mr. Biden’s roughly $1.75 trillion bill, allows some tax and spending measures to avert the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold and pass by a simple majority.
Republicans would acquiesce to the maneuver by not slowing down the process with parliamentary roadblocks. Mr. Toomey said the GOP’s sole responsibility would be to “yield back time and not drag it out.”
“This could be a 48-hour exercise,” said Mr. Toomey. “It would probably be less than that.”
Any attempt to increase or suspend the debt ceiling, the cap on how much the federal government can borrow to meet expenses, is subject to normal filibuster rules in the Senate. That means that if even one lawmaker objects, then 60 votes are required to cut off debate.
Mr. McConnell, who helped provide GOP votes for a short-term debt ceiling hike earlier this year, has ruled out doing so again. Instead, arguing that Democrats should deal with the topic on their own using reconciliation.
As evidenced by Mr. Toomey’s proposal, that process would require all 50 Senate Republicans to be on board with limited debate.
“Let me assure everyone the government will not default as it never has,” said Mr. McConnell. “The majority leader and I have been having discussions about the way forward.”