Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, speaks at a press conference after the Senate Republican Policy Luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.
Stephanie Reynolds | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Congress has no time to stop the government from shutting down and defaulting.
Senate Republicans on Monday vetoed a bill to fund the government and suspend the US debt ceiling, allowing Democrats to scramble to avoid a possible economic disaster.
The legislation passed by the House of Representatives was supposed to fund the government in December and suspend the U.S. debt ceiling until December next year after the midterm elections in Congress.
After every House Republican opposed the measure, the Senate Republicans also refused to help Democrats suspend the debt limit.
Democrats must now take a series of daunting measures to avoid a series of events that could disrupt the economy and cost millions of Americans their jobs. The Republican opposition may force them to pass a short-term financing bill with the support of the Republican Party and then approve the moratorium on the debt limit on their own – this may be part of their $3.5 trillion budget settlement plan.
“I can’t emphasize that this is not just another political game,” Chuck Schumer, the New York State Senate Majority Leader, said before the vote. “We are facing a terrible march, which will hurt every American in this country.”
If lawmakers do not pass the appropriations bill before midnight on Thursday, government funds will lapse.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told lawmakers that unless Congress raises the debt ceiling, the United States will run out of ways to pay its bills sometime in October.
Government funding and debt limits are different issues. Raising or suspending the ceiling does not authorize new government spending, but allows the United States to borrow to pay existing debt.
Democrats criticized Republicans for risking economic collapse while opposing the suspension of the debt ceiling they had supported in the past. The party also pointed out that since Congress last suspended restrictions, Republicans have voted for trillions of dollars in emergency coronavirus assistance.
Republicans argue that their peers should suspend the debt ceiling on their own, because they will pass up to $3.5 trillion in investments in social safety nets and climate policy without the Republican Party.
Before voting on Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reiterated that Republicans will vote for a short-term financing bill that will not raise the debt ceiling.
“We will not provide a Republican vote for raising the debt limit,” he said.
Before the vote failed, he tried to propose a funding plan that did not resolve the borrowing limit. D-Vt. Senator Patrick Leahy opposed his move.
This story is developing. Please check for updates.