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Democrats agonized over shutdown and debt limit game plan


The majority party is considering an interim spending bill until December 10, with December 3 being another possible option, including billions of dollars in relief for hurricane-stricken Southeast Red states and funding for assist Afghan allies and partners. They will have to pass some sort of spending measure by September 30 or the federal government will shut down. Some Republicans have said they are ready to back a continued resolution with this additional help – as long as Democrats dare to lower their debt limit, which would mean giving up a major leverage point.

“Limiting the debt is a shared responsibility, and I urge Congress to come together, with that in mind, on a bipartisan basis as it has done in the past to protect the full faith and credit of the United States. “Pelosi wrote in a letter to members on Sunday.

Senate Republicans circulated a clip of House Budget Speaker John Yarmuth on Monday that showed the Kentucky Democrat noting on MSNBC that Democrats can use the reconciliation process to raise the debt ceiling on their own , while pushing trillions of dollars into the party’s political priorities without GOP Support.

“Well, at the end of the day they’ll have to vote for it or we’ll have to vote and do it ourselves,” Yarmuth said in the TV interview. “We can do it through reconciliation. The leaders said they didn’t want to do this. The reason is that if we are proceeding by reconciliation, we need to specify a number. It only worsens the chaos in a certain period of time. “

Republican leaders have insisted for months that Democrats control Congress and the White House, and therefore have the power to avoid default on their own. But with such slim majorities in the House and Senate, many centrist Democrats are uncomfortable unilaterally owning an initial increase in the amount of money the government can borrow – likely the only action allowed by the budget maneuver. special that the party is using to pass President Joe Biden’s social spending bill.

Instead, Democrats and the White House prefer a bipartisan debt ceiling suspension, which is tantamount to pausing on the critical issue. Both parties have been more inclined to support a suspension in recent years, most recently in August 2019, when the Trump administration, Pelosi and then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to lift the debt ceiling for two years.

Democrats have argued that Republicans are abandoning their responsibilities over the $ 22 trillion federal debt, which both sides have accumulated, leaving Democrats with a distinctly bipartisan issue.

“I absolutely believe that Republicans should participate in the recognition of the increase in the national debt,” said Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).

Republican fiscal hawks revel in the majority party’s indecision.

“It’s gonna be a ball. I’m going to have so much fun, ”said Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) Of the converging fiscal cliffs. “They don’t have to negotiate. They have the House, the Senate and the White House.… They don’t have to talk to us.”

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned her agency could run out of money as early as next month, while other experts have estimated Congress has until mid-November to act. Failure to raise the debt ceiling would create unprecedented economic chaos, disrupt financial markets, jeopardize the country’s credit rating, raise interest rates and more.

Yarmuth said he would rather increase the debt limit to an “extraordinarily high amount that we will never reach” so Congress can avoid the political deadlock that often surrounds the debt ceiling every few years.

“But it’s probably not politically viable,” Yarmuth said on MSNBC.

Jennifer Scholtes contributed to this report.