- Democrats attacked Mitch McConnell for trying to rally Republicans against raising the debt ceiling.
- “He will not be able to hold the economy hostage,” a top Democrat said Wednesday.
- Republicans had previously backed raising the debt ceiling under Trump.
Congressional Democrats slammed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Wednesday for threatening to oppose an extension of the U.S. ability to pay its bills, a move that could jeopardize the U.S. economic recovery if Congress does not act.
Senator Ron Wyden, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, told reporters that the national debt ballooned under President Donald Trump as a result of the pandemic and a Republican tax law in 2017 that reduced the country’s tax revenue from big business. The debt grew $ 7 trillion under the Trump administration.
“Now Mitch McConnell will skip paying the bills, we will not let him do it. He will not be able to hold the economy hostage,” Wyden said. “We want to move so fast.”
Wyden said Democrats did not make political demands in return for supporting raising the debt ceiling while Trump was in office. He described McConnell’s move as “stallball”.
“Mitch McConnell plays Russian roulette with this economy,” Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranked Democrat in the upper house, told reporters.
The Kentucky Republican said in an interview published on Punchbowl News on Monday that Republicans would not enter into an agreement with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling, the statutory limit that the federal government can borrow to pay its bills.
McConnell said Democrats should do so solely through reconciliation, a legislative trail that requires only majority voting and therefore would be possible to pass without Republican support.
Wyden refused to answer Insider when asked if it would be difficult to get all 50 Senate Democrats on board. There were still signs that the Biden administration did not intend to enter into an agreement with the GOP.
“We expect Congress to act in a timely manner to raise or suspend the debt ceiling, as they did three times on a broad two-party basis during the last administration,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday. Yet Democrats have not decided how to raise the debt ceiling just nine days before it expires.
“They have to decide what the strategy is, but I think it’s going to be easy to get Democrats on board,” Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, told Insider on Wednesday.
The United States is scheduled to reach its debt limit on July 30, two years after it was last extended. But the Treasury Department has the ability to pay off U.S. debt alone for a limited period of time and avert a default with potentially catastrophic consequences for the economy.
The non-Paris congressional budget assumed on Wednesday that the Treasury would “likely” run out of cash sometime in October or November.
Other Democrats simply withdrew from McConnell’s threat.
“‘Meh’ is my official response,” said Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, a Democrat who sponsors a bill to abolish the debt ceiling, in an interview. “It does not matter we handle our business. It is something Hill scares around every year or so. We do not want to negotiate about it, we do not want to admit anything and we do not fail to do our job.