Senate Republicans on Monday blocked a government funding and debt ceiling suspension measure, implementing their threat not to vote in favor of a Democratic move to increase the government’s borrowing limit.
The vote count was 48-50. Sixty votes were needed to move the measure forward.
No Republican voted for the legislation.
The setback is the latest in a slow-motion brawl over how to finance the government and manage the debt ceiling, which resumed on August 1 with the Treasury Department using “extraordinary measures” since then to maintain solvency of the government.
Congress has until the end of Thursday to pass a government funding bill to avoid a shutdown the next day. The deadline for needing to meet the country’s borrowing limit is less specific. secretary of the treasury Janet YellenJanet Louise Yellen Budget deadlock marks critical turning point in Biden’s presidency We don’t need platinum to solve debt ceiling crisis warned congressional leaders that they may have to take action as early as next month.
Democratic leaders have not disclosed what their next step will be, but they pledge to prevent a halt in their surveillance. In order to keep that promise, they’ll need Republican cooperation to speed up a government funding bill.
Majority leader in the Senate Charles SchumerChuck Schumer Anti-Trump Republicans on line in 2022 too Democrats urge Biden to go all out with program in limbo Democrats ask Schumer to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Hill MORE (DN.Y.) initially voted to start the debate, but reversed its vote – a procedural decision that allows him to easily bring the measure back to consideration.
“I changed my vote from yes to no in order to reserve the option of further action on legislation passed by the House. Keeping government open and preventing default is vital to the future of our country and we will take new measures to prevent that from happening this week, ”Schumer said.
If they ditch the debt fight for now, they have options to fund the government, either by meeting the December 3 end date or passing a bill to try to align it with the date. potential “x” in the coming weeks when Congress comes to grapple with the debt ceiling.
“Well, I don’t want to shut down the government,” Sen said. Dick durbinDick DurbinDemocrats urge Biden to do everything with agenda in limbo Schumer sets up showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill on Monday Democrats surprised, caught off guard by deal ” frame »MORE (D-Ill.), Noting that Schumer has the final say on strategy.
A spokesperson for Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Pelosi North Dakota Republicans’ latest COVID-19 case, Pelosi, votes Thursday on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Cheney says many GOP lawmakers privately encouraged his fight against Trump MORE (D-Calif.) Did not respond to a request for comment, but Pelosi told reporters late last week that “we’ll keep our government open by September 30, which is our date, and will continue the conversation on the debt ceiling, but not for long. “
Republicans have warned for months, including just hours before Monday’s vote, that they will not help Democrats raise or suspend the debt ceiling. Democrats voted with Republicans under the Trump administration to suspend the debt ceiling as part of larger funding plans.
“For over two months now, Senate Republicans have been absolutely clear on how this process will unfold. So let me say it very clearly once again, we will be supporting a clean and continuing resolution that will prevent a government shutdown. … We will not provide Republican votes to raise the debt ceiling, ”said Senate Minority Leader Mitch mcconnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnell How Democratic Party Campaign Strategy Fails America GOP Should Seize Opportunity to Reverse Pelosi’s Reconciliation Plan We Don’t Need Platinum To Solve Debt Ceiling Crisis MORE (R-Ky.).
McConnell and other GOP senators tried to introduce a short-term funding bill without increasing debt, but Democrats blocked the attempt.
Democrats, meanwhile, have tried to step up pressure on Republicans, warning that by bringing down the bill passed by the House, they are bringing the country closer to a default. Although the United States government has never defaulted, a similar stalemate in 2011 led S&P to strip the United States of its long-standing AAA credit rating.
Schumer called the GOP’s stance “unbalanced”, arguing that there was a choice between “preserving our full faith and our credit or voting for unprecedented default.”
They “are deliberately sabotaging our country’s ability to pay the bills and possibly causing the country’s very first default in US history,” Schumer said.
Sixty-four House Democrats, including the majority leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerDemocrats urge Schumer to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Hill Democrats have set a “goal” to vote on infrastructure and the social spending program next week. (Md.), Sent a letter to McConnell on Monday saying Republicans risked the country’s economic recovery, after taking a heavy blow last year when businesses shut down during coronavirus restrictions.
“Holding the debt ceiling hostage … is a dangerous, illogical and irresponsible way of expressing this concern,” Democratic lawmakers wrote.
But that hasn’t done much to move Republicans, who are trying to force Democrats to raise the debt ceiling on their own through the $ 3.5 trillion spending package they can pass without any support. of the GOP.
McConnell, speaking in the Senate, noted that Senate Democrats did not vote to raise the debt ceiling during the George W. Bush administration when Republicans controlled both Houses and the White House.
But Democrats did not obstruct this increase in the debt ceiling, which means Republicans were able to raise it themselves with a simple majority. The GOP leadership has acknowledged that they have Tory members who obstruct the government’s debt financing bill, forcing Democrats to seek the highest goal.
Republicans see a political advantage in forcing Democrats to raise the debt ceiling themselves through reconciliation: it forces Democrats to increase debt to a certain number, instead of suspending it until a certain date. The move would likely fuel campaign announcements against vulnerable Democrats in the 2022 midterm election.
Republicans are also hoping that adding debt relief to the reconciliation bill will make it harder for Democrats to pass the $ 3.5 trillion package, where they already face internal setbacks at times. on the scope and details of the far-reaching bill.
Democrats could amend the budget resolution to try to include the debt limit, although there is no guarantee that it will align with the spending bill. They were reluctant to put that option on the table, pushing instead for a vote on bipartisan debt.
The United States is on track to default on national debt between Oct. 15 and Nov. 4 if Congress is unable to raise the federal debt ceiling, according to a forecast released by the Bipartisan Policy Center on Friday. .
Durbin said he expected Congress to need to act in “days,” but did not approve the use of reconciliation.
“I wouldn’t go into any approach,” Durbin said, adding that “Schumer might have a better approach.”
Updated at 18:52