Democrats hope to tackle debt ceiling before GOP takes control of House

With just a month to go before Republicans take a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats are increasingly making calls to address the nation. debt limitand avoid a possible destructive standoff on raising the limit in 2023.

Despite the series of new ballot requests from veteran House Democrats and newly elected members of Congress, who would rather not face a debt ceiling crisis in their first year on Capitol Hill, congressional leaders have not have neither planned nor expected to vote on the debt ceiling before the end of the year.

Hopes for a proposed debt ceiling are increasingly at risk of being dashed amid a crushing of inescapable legislation in the fleeting weeks of this Congress.

At a news conference Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not respond directly when asked if the House would pass non-debt ceiling legislation until January. She said Democrats have said “again and again” that they want to manage the debt limit in a “bipartisan” way.

“We think that would be the right way to go,” she added.

Speaker Pelosi holds a weekly press conference on Capitol Hill
U.S. Speaker of the House Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during her weekly press conference at the United States Capitol on December 1, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

But Pelosi said completing a spending bill to avert the impending government shutdown on Dec. 16 and a bill to authorize U.S. military programs are priorities in the coming days.

Pelosi said the House would spend Tuesday considering a bill passed by the Senate to strengthen protections for same-sex marriages, but did not specify a date for a debate on the debt ceiling.

A growing number of House Democrats have said they would prefer the House to proactively move forward to 2023 on the debt ceiling, to prevent Republicans from leveraging the debt ceiling to negotiate government policy priorities. GOP, and potentially trigger a shock to the economy. A stalemate over the debt ceiling damaged the United States’ credit rating and financial markets in 2011 under the Obama administration when Republicans controlled the House.

The limit is the maximum amount the United States is allowed to borrow to pay its debts. If the amount of public debt reaches this limit and does not rise above the ceiling, the United States would be unable to pay what it owes and could default.

“Leading House and Senate Republicans keep saying they want to hijack the debt ceiling as leverage to demand cuts to Social Security and Medicare, which the President rightly ruled out,” Democratic Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia said.

Last month, ahead of his nomination as House Democratic leader, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries told reporters that “House and Senate leadership (the debt ceiling) is something we need to look at.” Jeffries said Republicans could “hold the economy hostage.”

But in a letter to colleagues last month, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) listed a series of priorities and plans for the final weeks of Congress, and did not detail a plan. to raise or preemptively address the debt ceiling, before Republicans take control of the House on Jan. 3.

GOP Rep. Chip Roy of Texas said Thursday that the debt ceiling issue during the lame session was an “unstarted period.”

“Any debt limit legislation must include real structural reforms that reduce spending, balance the budget, and undo funding for federal tyranny against the American people; the only way to achieve these reforms is with a House controlled by the Republicans. No Republican in either House should support this Democratic bill,” Roy said.

Republican Representative Michael Burgess of Texas said Democrats need to “figure out how we wrap up” the year.

“I think there’s a lot of things that need to happen, need to fall into place and we’re running out of daylight to do that,” Burgess said. “So that seems like a pretty big request for that to be done as well.”

And GOP Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina criticized Democrats as wanting to “keep spending more money and racking up more debt until we collapse.”

“I don’t think we have to help them crash the American economy,” Bishop said.

They need to understand how we end this year. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

A new House Democrat told CBS News he would rather the House defuse the debt ceiling issue sooner than later.

“We don’t want to play chicken with the economy or the full faith and credit of the United States government,” said Democratic Representative Glenn Ivey of Maryland. “It’s having devastating effects on people’s lives. We’ve seen previous stunts…at previous conventions. Let’s not scare Wall Street again.”

Economic analysts and business leaders have pointed to the importance and volatility of the debt ceiling issue.

A debt ceiling crisis accelerates the risks of recession,” said Detroit Regional Chamber Speaker Sandy Baruah. “It’s a very destabilizing dynamic.”

Ellis Kim contributed to this report.


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