GOP senator will ‘probably’ vote for debt limit increase

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) speaks to reporters as he arrives to the Capitol on Wednesday, August 4, 2021 for amendment votes regarding the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Greg Nash

Republican Sen. John Kennedy, whose home state of Louisiana was hit hard by Hurricane Ida, says he will “probably” vote for legislation that would fund the government, provide disaster relief and raise the federal debt limit.

Kennedy told reporters Monday that he would not otherwise support the debt limit increase but will likely vote for it if it’s part of a larger government funding and disaster relief package.

“I want to see what they come up with, but if it’s fair, I’ll probably vote yes — but reluctantly,” Kennedy said, reiterating a position he announced last week.

But Kennedy warned there are not 10 Republican votes to raise the debt ceiling, even if it’s part of a funding bill to keep government departments open and respond to Ida and other recent natural disasters.

“I don’t think they’re going to get 10 Republican votes, and I’ve told the White House that,” he said. “If they insist on doing it, it tells me they’re not really interested in providing disaster relief.” 

Asked who would get the blame for a government shutdown, Kennedy responded, “I don’t know.”

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), who represents another Gulf Coast state hit by Ida, said he would not vote to raise the debt limit. 

“I am not at all interested in helping the Democrats raise the debt,” he said Monday afternoon.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a prominent moderate, said Monday she would vote for a “clean” bill to fund the government past Sept. 30 and provide disaster relief but said a package that also included legislation to raise the debt limit would be totally different.

Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah), another Republican, also says he’s not inclined to support any legislation that raises the debt limit.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has leaned on Senate Republicans to oppose any debt limit increase to force Democrats to include it in the $3.5 trillion bill they plan to pass by a party-line vote under budget reconciliation. 

“Sen. McConnell rarely ever asks us to vote in a particular way, but on this one, he’s made his wishes known, and I don’t think he’s bluffing,” Kennedy said. “He’s like that Missouri mule on this one, just sitting down in the mud and not budging, and I don’t think there will be 10 votes to pass the [funding bill.]”

Tags John Kennedy Mitch McConnell Mitt Romney Roger Wicker Susan Collins

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