Of course, Democrats might still be forced to prepare for that unsavory escape route, if Republicans keep their vow to deny President Joe Biden’s party the votes on their strategy and the global economy approaches a storm.
Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders insisted last week that there was “no back-up plan.”
“Do you understand the importance of the defect? The Vermont Independent said the Treasury Department was strapped for cash. “It would bring the economy of the whole world to its knees. Do I think Republicans are that crazy? No, I don’t.
The House has already approved a government funding plan that would prevent a shutdown on Friday and suspend the debt ceiling until December 2022, essentially putting the issue on hold until the midterm elections. But this measure should die on Monday in the Senate, where the vast majority of Republicans firmly oppose any measure to lift the debt ceiling. Congress still does not have a clear plan to address either budget deadline.
Democrats say it’s unthinkable that the GOP would refuse to help with the debt limit, which members of both parties voted together to increase or suspend three times during the Trump administration. The nation has never defaulted on its financial obligations, and both sides agree that such a scenario would be a disastrous failure of Congress – likely to disrupt the stock market, raise interest rates and force the Department of Treasury to prioritize payments to Americans who depend on the social safety net.
Yet Republicans insist Democrats go it alone. Republicans are forcing the majority party to jump through unnecessary hoops just to wreak havoc, say Democratic lawmakers and their aides, and jeopardize economic stability in the process.
“We don’t know what the default filing deadline is,” said House Budget Speaker John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), adding that “if it’s mid-October we will have to start very soon” to move to a party line approach.
Senate GOP could make it easier for Democrats to manage the debt limit by opposing it without formal obstruction, letting the majority pass a measure with its 50 votes plus Vice President Kamala’s tiebreaker Harris. However, Senate Conservatives say they are also determined to block that path.
This apparently leaves Democrats with no option other than painstaking changes to their party line spending bill, putting them in uncharted territory.
“It’s pretty clear,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.). “We are playing a dangerous game here with the American economy and with our stature in the country.”
“The money has already been spent,” Tester added. “It was spent under a Republican Senate, a Republican House and a Republican President. So I think Republicans have some obligation here to do what’s right. “
The current imperative to raise the debt ceiling would cover Trump-era spending as well as any spending already authorized by the government. Still, GOP leaders argue that Democrats have the power and the time to do it – they just don’t want to, because raising the debt figure alone could threaten their majorities in the midterm elections. next year.
“My colleagues have plenty of time to do this,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week. “It’s laughable – laughable – to hear some Democrats claim they just don’t have enough time. “
With a narrowing window for action, Democratic aides and experts are describing a path that is far from straightforward. The budget reconciliation process, which Democrats use to pass their massive social spending bill, has only been used four times to raise the debt ceiling, most recently in 1997.
Never has either side reopened a budget resolution – the legislation used to unblock the reconciliation process – and revised it to tackle the debt ceiling. This would require a lot of discussion with the parliamentarian of the Senate, the non-partisan arbiter of the rules of the upper house. There are big unresolved questions, including whether the approach is permissible and whether it would jeopardize the enormous amount of work already invested in the broader social spending bill.
It’s “possible,” Yarmuth said, but in another sense “practically impossible” with all the answers to the questions involved.
The idea is still on the ice for now. Democrats and their aides only see it as a hypothetical option if the party is pushed against a wall, although anxiety over the issue will increase on Monday when the House finance and debt bill fails the House. Senate. After that, Democrats are betting Republicans will give in to pressure from business, which warns that a budget apocalypse could occur.
“It is incomprehensible to me… that you have a Republican Party that would allow the greater economy to default on our loans and on the money that has already been spent, especially during the Trump administration,” Sanders said.
“But I don’t think that’s going to happen,” he said. “I think Republicans might be a little crazy, but they’re not that crazy.”
Jennifer Scholtes contributed to this report.