US House Democrats will incorporate a suspension of the debt limit into a short-term government spending bill, a move unlikely to gain support from Republicans, it was announced.
The legislation to avoid a government shutdown will include a suspension of the debt limit through December 2022 “to once again meet our obligations and protect the full faith and credit of the US”, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement released on Monday.
The statement came after weeks of impasse over the debt ceiling issue, as Republican lawmakers have threatened to oppose a measure to suspend or raise the federal debt limit, arguing that Democrats should do that on their own, since they control both chambers of Congress and the White House, and complaining about a lack of bipartisanship in crafting President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending plan.
“Let me make it perfectly clear. The country must never default. The debt ceiling will need to be raised. But who does that depends on who the American people elect,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently told Punchbowl News.
Pelosi and Schumer, meanwhile, noted that raising the debt limit does not authorise new federal spending, but it allows the Treasury Department to borrow additional funds to cover expenditures that have already been approved by Congress, including the bipartisan $908 billion Covid-19 relief bill, which was authored by Republican senators.
“As the Administration warned last week, a reckless Republican-forced default could plunge the country into a recession,” the Democratic leaders said in Monday’s statement.
By combing the debt limit suspension with the short-term government funding bill, known as a continuing resolution, Democratic leaders are pressuring Republicans to support the debt limit increase, or risk a government shutdown in just a few days.
McConnell, however, said on Monday that Senate Republicans would support a “clean” continuing resolution that included appropriate disaster relief and targeted Afghan assistance, but “will not” support legislation that raises the debt limit.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Sunday warned that the country’s economic recovery would reverse into recession if Congress fails to swiftly raise the federal debt limit.
The debt limit, commonly called the debt ceiling, is the total amount of money that the government is authorised to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations, including social security and medicare benefits, interest on the national debt, and other payments.