46 GOP senators warn they will not vote to raise debt ceiling

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is seen during a press conference on Monday, August 9, 2021 to discuss the Democrats’ FY 2022 budget resolution and ten year outlook.
Greg Nash

Forty-six GOP senators are warning that they will not vote to raise the debt ceiling as Republicans ramp up pressure on Democrats to increase the nation’s borrowing limit on their own.

All but four members of the Senate Republican Conference signed on to the letter — addressed to “fellow Americans” and released Tuesday night — that warns that the 46 GOP senators won’t support a debt hike, regardless of whether it’s attached to another bill or brought up on its own.

“We, the undersigned Republican Senators, are letting Senate Democrats and the American public know that we will not vote to increase the debt ceiling, whether that increase comes through a stand-alone bill, a continuing resolution, or any other vehicle,” the group wrote in the letter.

“This is a problem created by Democrat spending. Democrats will have to accept sole responsibility for facilitating it,” they added.

Raising the debt ceiling doesn’t cover new spending but allows the Treasury Department to cover money already greenlighted by Congress.

The letter was spearheaded by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who is up for reelection next year and hasn’t announced whether he will run. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sens. John Thune (S.D.), John Barrasso (Wyo.) and Roy Blunt (Mo.) — the second-, third- and fourth-ranking Senate Republican, respectively — were also among those who signed the letter.

The GOP senators who didn’t sign the letter were Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Richard Shelby (Ala.) and John Kennedy (La.).

That leaves Democrats short of the 10 Republican votes they would need to raise the debt ceiling outside of the budget process.

Congress previously voted in 2019 to suspend the debt ceiling for two years as part of a budget deal. But the country’s borrowing limit kicked back in earlier this month, and the Treasury Department is using “extraordinary measures” to keep the United States solvent.

When exactly Congress will need to raise the debt ceiling or risk a default that would spark widespread, catastrophic economic consequences is unclear. But the Bipartisan Policy Center is estimating that it will need to happen this fall.

The GOP letter comes as Democrats appear ready to forgo trying to raise the debt ceiling on their own as part of a massive spending package they will bypass Republicans on later this year.

The budget resolution unveiled by Senate Democrats on Monday that sets up the $3.5 trillion spending plan doesn’t mention the debt ceiling. It’s also not included in two summaries, including a memo to Democratic senators that explains what they’ll include in the bill they want to pass this fall.

But McConnell doubled down on his pledge that Republicans wouldn’t put up enough votes to raise the debt ceiling outside of the budget process.

“Here’s the comedy, they won’t let Republicans have any say in this monstrosity but they want our help raising their credit card to make it happen,” McConnell said.

“Democrats want Republicans to help them raise the debt limit so they can keep spending historic sums of money with zero Republican input and zero Republican votes,” he added.

Tags debt ceiling John Barrasso John Kennedy John Thune Lindsey Graham Lisa Murkowski Mitch McConnell Richard Shelby Ron Johnson Roy Blunt Susan Collins

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