Congressional Democrats on Wednesday criticized the Minority Leader of the Kentucky Senate Mitch McConnell for threatening against extending the US’s ability to pay bills, a move that could jeopardize the US economic recovery if Congress does not take action.
Senator Ron Wyden, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, told reporters that due to the pandemic and the 2017 Republican tax law that reduced the country’s tax revenue from large companies, the national debt under the leadership of US President Donald Trump has soared. During the Trump administration, debt increased by $7 trillion.
“Now Mitch McConnell wants to skip out on paying the bills, we are not going to let him do it. He’s not going to be able to hold the economy hostage,” Wyden said. “We are going to move this quickly.”
Wyden said that the Democrats did not make any political demands during Trump’s administration in exchange for support to raise the debt ceiling. He described McConnell’s actions as a “stall ball.”
“Mitch McConnell is playing Russian roulette with this economy,” Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranked Democrat in the upper chamber, told reporters.
The Kentucky Republican said in an interview published in Punchbowl News on Monday that Republicans will not reach an agreement with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling, which is a legal limit on which the federal government can borrow money to pay bills.
McConnell said that Democrats will have to act alone through reconciliation. This is a legislative approach that requires only a majority vote, so it is feasible without the support of the Republican Party.
When asked if it would be difficult to involve all 50 Senate Democrats, Wyden declined to respond to Insider. However, there are signs that the Biden administration has no intention of reaching an agreement with the Republican Party. White House Press Secretary Jane Pasaki said on Wednesday: “We expect Congress to act in a timely manner to raise or suspend the debt ceiling, as they did three times on a broad bipartisan basis during the last administration.” Nonetheless, before the debt ceiling expires. For nine days, the Democrats have not yet decided how to raise the debt ceiling.
“They have to decide what the strategy is, but I do think it’s going to be easy to get Democrats on board,” Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, told Insider on Wednesday.
The United States is scheduled to reach the debt ceiling on July 30, two years after the last extension. But the Treasury Department has the ability to repay US debts on its own within a limited time and avoid defaults that may have disastrous consequences for the economy.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office predicted on Wednesday that the Treasury Department is “probably” to run out of cash sometime in October or November. Other Democrats simply ignored McConnell’s threats.
“‘Meh’ is my official response,” Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, a Democrat, initiated a bill to abolish the debt ceiling, he said in an interview, “Doesn’t matter, we’ll handle our business. This is something the Hill freaks out about every year or so. We will not negotiate over it, we will not concede anything and we won’t fail to do our job.”