“I think it sets a bad precedent,” Ernst said. “Maybe it could pass, but it’s something we all need to talk about, and I just don’t think we should operate like this.”
The debt gamble on the Defense Bill comes as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell quietly negotiate a way forward to suspend the borrowing limit and avoid a catastrophic government default. The Treasury Department is currently forecasting that the federal government will hit its current debt ceiling on December 15. The most recent estimate from the Bipartisan Policy Center predicts that the so-called “X date” for the default will be between December 21 and January 28, 2022.
Many Republicans argue that pegging the debt ceiling on the annual defense policy bill would force them to vote unreasonably, given the GOP’s broad support for the defense bill and strong opposition from their government. party to respect a suspension of the debt ceiling.
Democrats have privately suggested that McConnell was willing to tie the debt limit to the defense policy bill, and the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee said Monday night he would still vote yes on the Combination Vehicle: “What I don’t want to do – is for something to happen to our NDAA that would negatively impact it,” Oklahoma’s Jim Inhofe told reporters.
Yet several others in the GOP are freezing for the prospect.
“It would be misinterpreted for Republican support for [defense policy bill] Would also include “supporting an increase in the debt limit, said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), one of McConnell’s top advisers.” That’s why I think the message might be muddled. I don’t like the idea. “
Senate Republicans have long insisted that if Democrats are to suspend the debt ceiling, they must do it themselves, a protest against the price tag of the majority party’s upcoming social spending bill. Democrats counter that suspending the party-based debt limit would set a problematic precedent, and note that a significant portion of the debt causing the current problem was incurred during the Trump administration.
However, the tone between McConnell and Schumer as the next loan term approaches has improved significantly from the fall. McConnell provided the 11 GOP votes needed in October to allow Democrats to suspend the debt ceiling for two months. He continued to insist that Democrats should use the tedious budget reconciliation process to raise the debt limit while bypassing a GOP obstruction, but he also kept the lines of communication open with Schumer.
The debt limit appeared briefly at the GOP’s leadership meeting in the Senate this week, and McConnell indicated he was still speaking to Schumer, according to a participant who spoke candidly on condition of anonymity.
Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) Described the inclusion of the debt limit in the social spending bill as a “terrible idea” and predicted that it would fail to gain the necessary support of 10 Republicans to move forward.
“We’ve been pretty clear that we’re not actually going to help them add billions of more debt that we don’t have a part of,” Lankford said on Monday. “It’s been a pretty clear statement from the start on this, and it should continue to be.”
Even though the way forward for the debt ceiling remains uncertain, leaders of both parties have stressed they will not let the government default.
Senate Armed Services Chairman Jack Reed (DR.I.) asked if he was in favor of attaching the debt fix to the defense bill he is pushing through Congress, a took a long pause before saying “if this is the way to lower the debt ceiling, absolutely.” We need to raise the debt ceiling.
Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.), said he would need to consider any proposal to include the debt limit in the defense policy bill, but noted that he “must likely to be “dealt with before the Democrats’ social spending bill – which is currently slated to hit the Senate floor as early as next week.
“The debt ceiling is something we cannot play with,” Manchin said. “And you have to do it. You must pay.
Andrew Desiderio and Caitlin Emma contributed reporting.