Pelosi rules out raising debt limit through reconciliation

Pelosi rules out raising debt limit through reconciliation
© Getty Images

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike Ocasio-Cortez: 'Embarrassment' that Democratic leaders are delaying Boebert punishment Overnight Health Care — Biden mandate faces Dem resistance MORE (D-Calif.) told reporters Wednesday that Democrats will not use budget reconciliation to raise the federal debt ceiling, raising doubts over whether Congress will find a way to avert potential economic disaster.

When asked Wednesday evening if Pelosi had ruled out using budget reconciliation to raise or suspend the debt ceiling, the speaker replied “Yes.” 

Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBuild Back Better Is bad for the states  Dole to lie in state in Capitol Rotunda Biden points to drug prices in call for Senate social spending vote MORE (D-N.Y.) also shot down using that process to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its debt.


Pelosi spoke to reporters shortly after the House passed a bill to suspend the debt ceiling until December 2022 largely along party lines, with two Democrats opposed to the measure and one Republican voting in favor. Shortly before the vote, the speaker successfully quashed a rebellion among some moderate Democrats who did not want to vote for a debt ceiling hike that is doomed in the Senate.

While Pelosi called the House passage of the debt ceiling suspension “a great victory,” the bill is almost certain to fail in the Senate, where Republicans have vowed to block any bill to keep the country solvent.

The U.S. is on track to default on the national debt on Oct. 18 if Congress is unable to send President BidenJoe BidenHouse passes 8B defense policy bill House approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale MORE a bill to raise the debt ceiling, according to Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenDemocrats offer bill to raise debt ceiling, avoid filibuster Treasury rules would crack down on anonymous shell companies The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - New vaccine mandate in NYC; Biden-Putin showdown MORE

Defaulting on the national debt would likely cause an economic and financial crisis, which is why lawmakers have never allowed the U.S. to breach its obligations. 

Even so, Republicans are attempting to use the debt limit to roil Biden’s economic agenda by forcing Democrats to raise the ceiling through the budget reconciliation process — the vehicle for their multi-trillion dollar social services and climate bill.

Budget reconciliation measures can advance with only simple majorities in each chamber, and Democrats can use that process to raise the debt ceiling by specified amount while passing their Biden’s sweeping proposal.

Republicans have insisted that Democrats bear responsibility for raising the debt ceiling on their own because they’ve sought to spend trillions of dollars along partisan lines.

But Democrats have refused to tie their tumultuous internal negotiations over the spending bill to raising the debt ceiling. They’ve also blasted Republicans for refusing to raise the debt ceiling under Biden despite doing so three times under former President TrumpDonald TrumpSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Crenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' Senate confirms Biden's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection MORE while adding trillions to the debt on their own.

“Deficits have been run by both Democratic and Republican administrations. It’s important to recognize that it means paying those deficits is a shared responsibility and it should not be the responsibility of any one party,” Yellen said on Tuesday.