Schumer fixes US debt ceiling vote on Wednesday as tensions rise
By David Morgan
WASHINGTON, Oct.5 (Reuters) – The Senate will vote on Wednesday on a Democrat-backed measure to suspend the US debt ceiling, a key lawmaker said on Tuesday, as partisan congressional risk of federal credit default economically crippling.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said senators would take a procedural vote on the bill – opposed by Republicans – to suspend the borrowing limit until the end of 2022. The Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has told lawmakers the government will exhaust its borrowing capacity by October 18 if they don’t act.
“We can solve the debt ceiling crisis this week and reassure the world that America’s full faith and credit will never be called into question,” Schumer told the Senate.
President Joe Biden’s Democratic colleagues tightly control both houses of Congress. The House of Representatives passed the debt ceiling law last week. The measure needs 60 votes to advance in the equally divided 100-seat Senate.
Republicans are pledging to block him as part of their strategy to thwart Biden’s ambitious social spending program ahead of the 2022 congressional election.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called on Democrats to tackle the debt ceiling themselves through a procedure known as budget reconciliation, which would not require a Republican vote. Senate Republicans have twice blocked Democrats from seeking bipartisan support to tackle the debt ceiling.
A very first federal debt default could have disastrous consequences for the U.S. economy by shedding millions of jobs, disrupting financial markets and increasing the cost of mortgages and business loans, analysts say.
Without a quick fix, some government services could be suspended, such as handing out Social Security benefit checks to the elderly.
Biden and Schumer dismissed reconciliation as too complicated and risky to solve the debt ceiling problem and warned of economic catastrophe unless Republicans change course.
“If Republicans want to vote ‘no’ tomorrow, if they really want to be the default party, that’s their choice,” Schumer said. “They have a chance to show that they are still responsible. It is not too late. But it is getting dangerously close.”
Schumer wants Republicans to simply allow the Senate to debate and hold a final vote on a debt ceiling suspension.
At least 10 Republicans are expected to join the 48 Senate Democrats and two independents who meet with Democrats to reach the 60-vote threshold, which would allow Democrats to pass the bill by simple majority later in the week.
Republicans, hoping to hold Democrats alone responsible for a higher debt ceiling, have rejected any possibility of helping out.
“The majority don’t need our votes. They just want a bipartisan shortcut around the procedural hurdles they can overcome on their own,” McConnell said Monday.
Some Republicans have said the path to reconciliation could absorb congressional attention, further slowing Biden’s ability to reach agreement on his multibillion-dollar social agenda and potentially undermining his support among moderates.
It would also force Democrats themselves to adopt a specific dollar figure for a new, higher debt ceiling, which Republicans could then target with attack ads for the 2022 election campaign focused on the issue of accountability. budgetary.
(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Will Dunham)