House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced this week that Democrats would combine a short-term government funding bill with a measure to suspend the U.S. debt limit, in a bid to avoid a government shutdown.
In a joint statement on Sept. 20, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the “American people expect our Republican colleagues to live up to their responsibilities and make good on the debts they proudly helped incur in the December 2020 ‘908’ COVID package that helped American families and small businesses reeling from the COVID crisis.”
Democrats will try to push the bill ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline to fund the government, according to the statement.
“Both Republicans and Democrats have priorities they want to see addressed in the regular order appropriations process for Fiscal Year 2022, and an extension of government funding through December will provide an appropriate amount of time for that bipartisan, bicameral process to come to completion,” the statement reads.
Republicans in Congress have signaled opposition to a number of Democrat-backed spending packages, including a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said that Democrats must raise the debt ceiling themselves, while other Republicans have echoed his statements to the press.
Republican members of Congress have said that by raising the debt limit, Democrats would then use the funds to pay for massive spending packages, including the $3.5 trillion measure.
McConnell spokesman Doug Andres said on Sept. 16 that the Senate Republican leader in a telephone conversation a day earlier “repeated to [Treasury] Secretary [Janet] Yellen what he has said publicly since July: This is a unified Democrat government, engaging in a partisan reckless tax and spending spree. They will have to raise the debt ceiling on their own and they have the tools to do it.”
The joint statement comes after the Biden administration, in a letter to governors, warned that the debt ceiling limit may be surpassed and potentially cause an economic recession.
“Hitting the debt ceiling could cause a recession. Economic growth would falter, unemployment would rise, and the labor market could lose millions of jobs,” the White House stated in a Sept. 17 letter.
In July, Congress missed its deadline to suspend or raise the debt limit, prompting several recent warnings from Yellen that her agency would exhaust its cash reserves and is now using “extraordinary measures” to finance the federal government and various programs. Congress in July 2019 approved a measure to suspend the debt ceiling for two years.
Yellen previously told lawmakers that a default on U.S. debt would “have absolutely catastrophic economic consequences,” saying that most of the debt had accumulated before the Biden administration took over in January 2021. The United States may hit the debt ceiling sometime in October, she said.