House Democrats made a last-ditch plea to Senate Republicans to back a suspension of the debt limit, begging them just hours before the vote Monday not to let the government default.
Republicans have insisted that if Democrats want to pass President Biden’s $3.5 trillion in new spending in a party-line vote, they can lift the debt ceiling in a party-line vote, too.
In a letter to Senate Minority Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, 64 House Democrats led by House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland warned that the GOP’s tactic could have disastrous consequences for the country.
“Holding the debt limit hostage, as you and forty-five of your Republican Senate colleagues have said you will do, is a dangerous, illogical, and irresponsible way to express that concern,” the lawmakers wrote.
“Whatever you think about the policy agenda that the current administration and the Democratic majorities in Congress are pursuing, we know you agree that it would be dangerous malpractice to allow our economy to be unnecessarily crippled by political uncertainty over a possible default on our obligations as a country,” they said.
The debt limit standoff pits Democrats, who don’t want to underscore their massive spending with a party-line vote to raise the debt limit, against Republicans, who don’t want to give any political cover to the majority.
The Treasure expects to run out of borrowing capacity and money to pay obligations in mid-October.
The suspension of the debt limit until December 2022 is included in a stopgap spending bill that would avoid a government shutdown at midnight Thursday. The temporary spending measure would keep the government open until Dec. 3.
Mr. McConnell has demanded separate votes on government funding and the debt limit.
Senate Republicans are poised to filibuster on Monday the House-passed bill that combined the government funding and debt limit measures.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, needs at least 10 Republican votes to overcome the 60-vote filibuster threshold.
“From the start, they planned to use a party-line fast-track process to ram through the Senate … their version of America,” Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said last week. “If they want to tax, borrow, and spend historic sums of money without our input, they’ll have to raise the debt limit without our help. This is the reality.”
Democrats contend that the debt ceiling would need to be raised regardless of additional spending. Under the Trump administration, they argue, Congress voted to suspend the debt ceiling three times to cover Republican-led spending initiatives.
“Every signatory to this letter did so at least once, setting aside the temptation to extract political pain, in order to ensure that our country could pay its bills,” the lawmakers wrote Monday. “It is time for you and the Republican Conference you lead to do as we did before — to do the right thing, the necessary thing, to avert a manufactured crisis.”