McConnell signals Senate GOP will oppose combined debt ceiling-funding bill
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Monday that Republicans would help pass a short-term government funding bill — but only if Democrats divorced it from a plan to suspend the debt ceiling through 2022.
“Senate Republicans would support a clean continuing resolution that included appropriate disaster relief and targeted Afghan assistance. We will not support legislation that raises the debt limit,” McConnell said from the Senate floor.
McConnell’s remarks came shortly after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced in a joint statement that they would use a short-term government funding bill, known as a continuing resolution, to also suspend the debt ceiling.
“The legislation to avoid a government shutdown will also include a suspension of the debt limit through December 2022 to once again meet our obligations and protect the full faith and credit of the United States,” they said.
In addition to a debt ceiling suspension, the short-term spending bill is also expected to include funding for recent national disasters and refugee resettlement.
The House will vote on the bill this week but is expected to run into a GOP filibuster in the Senate, where Republicans have telegraphed for weeks that they won’t help raise or suspend the debt ceiling regardless of whether it’s on its own or tied to another bill.
That will bring the fight to a head in the Senate days before government funding expires on Sept. 30. Democratic leaders haven’t said what they’ll do if Republicans block the short-term bill with the debt ceiling suspension attached.
The debt ceiling, which was suspended in 2019, kicked back in on Aug. 1. Since then, the Treasury Department has been using so-called extraordinary measures to keep the government solvent.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen hasn’t pinpointed when exactly they will run out but warned congressional leaders that it will be sometime in October.
Republicans are trying to force Democrats to raise the debt ceiling on their own as part of their $3.5 trillion spending plan. Because Democrats are passing the bill under budget reconciliation, they can sidestep needing GOP support in the Senate.
But there’s no guarantee the spending bill will be done in time amid myriad sticking points.
And Democratic leadership and the White House want to raise the debt ceiling with bipartisan support, effectively trying to force both parties to own the vote. Democrats previously supported suspending the debt ceiling under the Trump administration, though it was tied to other budget and spending deals.
“The Republicans are doing a dine and dash of historic proportions. … Democrats are going to do the responsible thing and vote to extend the debt limit when the time comes. We will see which of our Republican colleagues on the other side will have the strength, the courage, to follow suit,” Schumer said from the Senate floor on Monday.