Schumer: Democrats ‘cannot and will not’ raise debt ceiling through reconciliation

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday vowed that Democrats “cannot and will not” raise the nation’s borrowing limit as part of a sweeping spending bill.

“Now in solving this crisis, this body cannot and will not go through a drawn-out unpredictable process sought by the minority leader. … To do this through reconciliation requires ping-ponging separate bills back from the Senate and the House,” Schumer said.

“It’s uncharted waters,” he added.

Schumer’s comments take one potential vehicle for a debt ceiling hike off the table as the Senate could vote as soon as Wednesday to fund the government through Dec. 3. Congress has until Oct. 18 to raise the debt limit or face a historic and catastrophic default, according to a letter this week from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.  

Republicans are trying to force Democrats to raise the debt ceiling through reconciliation, a budget process that Democrats are using to pass their sweeping spending bill without GOP support. 

But Senate Democrats have been loath to put that option on the table, with Schumer and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), his No. 2, calling it a “nonstarter” on Tuesday.

Republicans previously blocked a House-passed bill on Monday that would suspend the debt ceiling through 2022 and fund the government until Dec. 3. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also blocked an effort by Schumer on Tuesday to bypass the 60-vote legislative filibuster.

Forcing Democrats to raise the debt ceiling through reconciliation would require them to attach a number to how high they want to raise the nation’s borrowing limit, compared to suspending the debt ceiling, which only requires a date for when it will kick back in.

The House could pass a standalone debt bill as soon as Wednesday, and Schumer, on Wednesday, made a standalone bill available for a vote in the Senate. But both of those would likely be blocked by Republicans. 

McConnell, backed by the 49 other members of his caucus, has shown no signs of backing down.

“There is no chance, no chance the Republican conference will go out of our way to help Democrats conserve their time and energy so they can resume ramming through partisan socialism as fast as possible,” McConnell said.

Tags Budget Charles Schumer debt ceiling Dick Durbin Janet Yellen Mitch McConnell Reconciliation Senate spending bill
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