U.S. Senate Republicans blocked a House-passed bill to suspend the debt limit and avert a government shutdown by the end of the month. The stop-gap spending bill failed to pass along party lines.
The move comes after Republicans had insisted that Democrats act alone to address the debt limit and leaves Congress without a clear plan to keep the government open with the threat of a potential shutdown looming by the end of the week. The House-passed bill would have kept the government open through December 3rd.
The Senate voted on a procedural motion to advance the legislation, which needed 60 votes to succeed. Since Democrats control 50 seats, they would have needed 10 Senate Republicans to vote in favor. In the end, the measure failed 48-50.
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin took to the Senate floor during the bill’s debate to remind GOP members that the debt they are refusing to pay was incurred under the Trump Administration: “Lest you think that this fiscally conservative Donald Trump was a good Republican through his 4 years when it came to debt, think again. The greatest increase in America’s national debt in any four-year period in our history, a 36% increase, occurred during the Trump Administration. Let me repeat, raising the debt ceiling has nothing to do with future spending. We are paying Donald Trump’s bills. We are acknowledging what was done by the House and Senate – Republicans and Democrats – what was spent and now has to be repaid. This is about paying what we already owe, and it’s also about averting an economic catastrophe. As a candidate, Donald Trump used to say he was ‘King of Debt.’ His reckless spending as president with America’s credit card added nearly $8 trillion to our national debt. That is one-third of the entire debt that was incurred during the Trump Administration.”
Durbin went on to lambast tax cuts given during the first year’s of President Trump’s term and Republicans for political gamesmanship.
Fellow Illinois Democrat Senator Tammy Duckworth released the following statement after the vote last night:
“As members of Congress, it’s our job to do what’s best for the people of this country. Republicans have completely abdicated that responsibility by blocking the CR and refusing to lift the debt ceiling, which has historically been a bipartisan effort-most recently as Democrats worked with Republicans during the Trump years to raise the debt limit multiple times.
“Our Constitution is clear: the validity of the public debt of the United States, as authorized by law, shall not be questioned. Congressional Republicans’ stubborn refusal tonight to let our country pay its bills is a stunning dereliction of duty and violates our Constitution’s mandate that our nation’s full faith and credit is not up for debate.
“If Republicans continue to refuse to pay the bills that were racked up during the Trump years-including the massive $2 trillion tax scam to the ultra-wealthy and corporations-despite having enough resources to do so and despite every Democrat voting for it, then it will be clear they would rather play politics than govern for the good of our country.”
CNN reports that Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky did attempt to bring up a clean stopgap bill to keep the government open that would not include the debt limit provision as an alternative to what Democrats wanted to pass. Senate Democrats objected to a unanimous consent request to advance that proposal.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a Wall Street Journal article last week that if the U.S. defaults on its debt, it could trigger great financial turmoil for the country including skyrocketing interest rates and possible stock market crash. Democrats have not yet announced an alternative proposal, but leaders have been conferencing with the Biden Administration on a possible path forward to keep the government from shutting down.
Washington D.C. politicos have the clock ticking on this hyper-partisan showdown with the country’s economic stability likely hanging in the balance.