- The Washington Times
Thursday, August 5, 2021

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday dismissed the notion that Republicans would provide the votes necessary to extend the federal debt ceiling and avoid a default on U.S. debts around the world, especially if Democrats reject any GOP input as they move forward with their $3.5 trillion party-line “human infrastructure” package.

Mr. McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, argues that if Democrats are poised to pass the package alone, then they should also be responsible for its spending implications.

“If our colleagues want to ram through yet another reckless tax and spending spree without our input, if they want all this spending and debt to be their signature legacy, they should leap at the chance to own every bit of it,” he said. “So let me make something perfectly clear: If they don’t need or want our input, they won’t get our help with the debt limit increase that these reckless plans will require.”

Mr. McConnell issued the warning as congressional Democrats discuss whether to extend the debt ceiling via a party-line strategy or attempt to get enough GOP support to overcome the Senate‘s 60-vote filibuster threshold.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, is signaling that he prefers to wait until the fall in hopes of securing bipartisan support.

The debate comes as lawmakers continued debate on President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. Once the infrastructure bill passes, Democrats are expected to push a second, $3.5 trillion social spending package, along party lines if necessary.

The massive “human infrastructure” package contains a slew of liberal priorities, including new climate-change regulations, anti-poverty initiatives and amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Since GOP support is unlikely, the only hope for its passage is via budget reconciliation — a process that allows spending bills to avert the Senate‘s 60-vote filibuster threshold and pass by a simple majority of 51 votes. But now the need to extend the debt ceiling has given the minority GOP a powerful tool for leverage.

“Even as Democrats crow about how all this spending is so good and so needed, they are petrified to vote for the credit limit increase that would make it possible,” Mr. McConnell said. “Democrats are about to tell Republicans to go take a hike and start teeing up trillions more dollars and borrowing and spending, of course, without a single Republican vote.”

The debt ceiling is a federally imposed limit on the amount of debt the federal government can borrow to pay for expenditures, like social security and employee salaries. A two-year suspension of the debt limit agreed to under former President Donald Trump, expired at the end of July, and the vote to authorize more borrowing is never a pleasant political chore.

Republicans, though, are uneager to help the House and Senate Democratic majorities reinstate the suspension given that the economy is showing signs of inflation.

• Haris Alic can be reached at halic@washingtontimes.com.

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