Former President TrumpDonald TrumpRobert Gates says 'extreme polarization' is the greatest threat to US democracy Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' MORE leaned on congressional Republicans to use the debt ceiling in negotiations with Democrats over a bill to raise the borrowing limit and keep the government funded.
The statement from Trump, which called the debt ceiling the GOP’s “only powerful tool,” is the latest instance of Trump exerting his influence on Republicans in Washington while out of office.
“The only powerful tool that Republicans have to negotiate with is the Debt Ceiling, and they would be both foolish and unpatriotic not to use it now,” he said, referencing a Democratic bill that ties together government funding and increasing the debt ceiling.
“The way I look at it, what the Democrats are proposing, on so many different levels, will destroy our Country. Therefore, Republicans have no choice but to do what they have to do, and the Democrats will have no choice but to concede all of the horror they are trying to inflict upon the future of the United States.”
The statement comes as Republicans in Congress, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHoyer signals House vote on bill to 'remove' debt limit threat Biden signs bill to raise debt ceiling On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan MORE (R-Ky.) dig in against the Democratic bill, saying Democrats should pass a debt ceiling increase in their $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill that can avoid a filibuster.
Democrats, however, note that past debt ceiling votes have been bipartisan and that they helped raise it three times under Trump without any provisions attached meant to reduce the national debt. This debt ceiling increase would also be used to cover debt accumulated during the previous administration.
The current Democratic bill, which passed Tuesday in the House, would need to net 60 votes in the Senate, meaning Republicans would have to vote for the legislation in the 50-50 chamber.
The high-stakes back and forth has increased the chances of a government shutdown and a default on the nation’s debts, both of which could trigger significant economic downturns.
The debt ceiling kicked back in on Aug. 1 after a suspension included in a 2019 budget deal ran out. The Treasury Department has been using “extraordinary measures” to allow the U.S. to pay its debts since then, but they will be unable to do so starting at some point in October, Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenDemocrats face growing storm over IRS reporting provision Hoyer signals House vote on bill to 'remove' debt limit threat Biden's IRS proposal could mark the end of privacy in banking MORE warned earlier this month.
Government funding also runs out at the end of September.