Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has urged President Joe Biden to work with Congressional Democrats to raise the debt ceiling on their own and avoid an October 18th (or so) default.
In a Monday letter, McConnell said he’s concerned “our nation is sleepwalking toward significant and avoidable danger because of confusion and inaction from the Speaker of the House and the Senate Democratic Leader concerning basic governing duties.”
McConnell then reminds Biden that Republicans have spent nearly three months stating that Democrats will need to raise the debt limit by themselves – via a budgetary process known as reconciliation, as “your party has chosen to pursue staggering, “transformational” spending through unprecedented use of the party-line reconciliation process.”
“Republicans’ position is simple. We have no list of demands. For two and a half months, we have simply warned that since your party wishes to govern alone, it must handle the debt limit alone as well.”
Stating the obvious, McConnell points out that “Senate Democrats do not need Republican cooperation in any shape or form to o their job,” adding “Democrats do not need our consent to set a vote at 51 [via reconciliation] instead of 60.”
At the end of the letter, McConnell ‘respectfully’ asks Biden to “engage directly with Congressional Democrats on this matter.”
President Biden on Monday ignored McConnell’s plea – saying in Monday remarks that he can’t guarantee that the US won’t breach the debt ceiling, and that it’s ‘up to McConnell’ at this point.
Biden pleaded with McConnell and the GOP leadership to give it a rest and just pass the bill, doing everything in his power to try and tag the GOP with responsibility for the holdup.
“If you don’t want to help save the country, get out of the way,” Biden said.
But the message that markets heard, loud and clear, was Biden confirming that, as of Monday, there’s no guarantee that the debt ceiling will be raised in time to prevent a breach or even a default.
Hammering again on the GOP’s alleged obstructionism, Biden insisted that they “need to stop playing Russian roulette with the American economy” and hold a vote on the Senate bill as quickly as possible this week. He also warned that these debt-ceiling standoffs hurt ordinary Americans.
“Let the Democrats vote to raise the debt ceiling this week…the House has already done it…it’s sitting in the Senate, waiting [for them] to pass it. Let us vote and end the mess, we have got to get this done,” Biden said.
“We can do it this week, just get out of the way and let us pass it”.
In the Q&A, Biden was asked about the McConnell letter, which he said he saw just before walking out to speak. He said he plans to meet with McConnell on the matter: “I plan on talking to Mitch about it, he and I have been down this road before…and I hope we can have some honest conversation about what he’s proposing.”
When asked by one reporter if Biden would agree to reconciliation if talks with McConnell go south, he stood firm and insisted that he couldn’t commit to using it, even if it were the only option.
Put another way: the game of political chicken between Dems and the GOP continues.
Democrats have been unwilling to pursue reconciliation to raise the debt ceiling – a staggering position to take three years after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) chided Republicans for refusing to use reconciliation to avoid a government shutdown.
Yet now that the shoe is on the other foot, Democrats are taking reconciliation off the table.
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