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Republicans oppose raising debt ceiling

When lawmakers return to Washington next week, they will be faced with a stack of deadlines: 10 days to fund the government and just a few weeks to find a way to increase the country’s borrowing limit before the country does. default on its debt, but so far there is no indication that the two sides are sitting down to iron out their differences. This increases the prospects of a fall in the crisis on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers could be on the verge of a closure and credit default within weeks.

“Our leadership is going to have to come together for us to come together, and that has not happened yet,” said top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Dick Shelby of Alabama.

Democrats could use a special budget process to pass the increased debt ceiling on their own with a simple simple majority, but they decided not to, opting instead to force the issue.

“It’s for Trump’s debt,” said Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Democratic whip. “You’d think they’d at least get up and pay for the administration of this latest Republican president.”

Instead, Democrats will need 60 votes for their efforts, and even members who cross party lines often are already saying they won’t be helping Democrats this round.

“No, that won’t happen,” said Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, when asked if there was a way he could vote to raise the debt ceiling.

For months, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been unequivocal: his caucus will not support raising the debt ceiling. In August, 46 Republican senators signed a letter declaring that they would not help Democrats with the 60 votes needed to raise the debt ceiling.

“We must not default on our debts under any circumstances,” they wrote. “If Democrats threaten to default, it will only be because they refuse to vote for the increase in the debt ceiling made necessary by their own irresponsible spending.”

During a closed-door lunch, McConnell told colleagues Democrats would “own” the hike in the debt limit, according to a person in attendance, and so far McConnell has seen few cracks in his lecture.

“We don’t need to spend the kind of money Democrats spend, it’s their own making,” said Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican from Iowa. “It’s up to them to decide.”

Republican mistrust has only grown even as Democrats consider including increased debt in their must-have spending bill to fund the government, a move that could pressure Republicans, especially those who come. Hurricane-ravaged states, where funding for disaster relief is critical. .

“I’ll wait and see how they tighten up,” said Senator Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, calling the bill a CR spending, for an ongoing resolution, which keeps funding at current levels for a set period of time. . “I think it’s safe to say that if they tie an increase in the debt limit on CR, CR is going to fail. It won’t get 60 votes.… Democrats are in control of their fate on this.”

Democrats are considering other ways to pressure Republicans to increase the borrowing limit, including adding other popular elements – such as disaster relief and assistance to Afghan refugees – an increase in the debt ceiling associated with government funding. Democrats are betting it would be a politically difficult vote for Republicans to shut down government while opposing disaster relief, especially those representing states damaged by Hurricane Ida.

Republicans oppose raising debt ceiling

But so far, even Republicans in Louisiana and Mississippi, both of whom have suffered the ravages of recent storms and could benefit from emergency funding, show no signs of feeling uncomfortable. at the idea of ​​opposing such a package.

Cassidy said he remains “committed to disaster relief” but needs to see if Democrats start adding “this and that, and that and that.” And Senator Roger Wicker, a Republican from Mississippi, was even more adamant: “No. I am not voting to raise the debt ceiling,” he told CNN.

Meanwhile, across Capitol Hill, House Republicans are also expected to be united in their opposition to the increased debt ceiling, even though two GOP leadership – Minority Whip Steve Scalise and GOP Conference Vice President Mike Johnson – are from Louisiana.

More than 100 Republican House lawmakers, including Johnson and Representative Michael Guest of Mississippi, signed a letter late last month pledging to vote against raising the debt ceiling “through a bill autonomous, continuous resolution or any other vehicle “.

Republicans are brushing aside accusations of hypocrisy from the Democrats, who note that the GOP supported an increase in the debt ceiling under President Donald Trump and that most of the country’s current debt was accumulated under the former president. Yet Republicans believe they will be on a solid political footing at home if they combine the increased debt ceiling with pressure from Democrats to pass a massive $ 3.5 trillion economic bill.

There are still several factors to be addressed. Democrats have not decided with certainty that they will tie the debt ceiling to the spending bill, a gamble they are keenly aware of could trigger a government shutdown and hamper their efforts to push through infrastructure and government. President Joe Biden’s economic program. And Republicans are yet to be asked to vote on anything. Pressure could always change the dynamics.

But so far, Republicans are largely defiant, predicting they would vote against a short-term spending bill if it involved raising the debt ceiling at the same time.

“If you are going to limit debt, you have to do it on your own, separately, and it has to be tied to something that helps control spending,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida.

CNN’s Manu Raju contributed to this report.