With all the arguments around the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill and the bipartisan infrastructure bill, one issue that has fallen by the wayside is that of the debt ceiling. In order for Democrats to get what they want, it will have to be lifted, which means we are headed for another major shutdown battle in the coming weeks.
Janet Yellen, the Treasury Secretary, recently called Sen. Mitch McConnell to lobby his support to raise the debt ceiling. But McConnell, perhaps sensing that he has nothing to gain by handing Democrats another victory, gave his response: Nah.
From colleague Jacqui Heinrich. Yellen called McConnell to discuss push to raise debt limit. McConnell spox says McConnell told Yellen "This is a unified Democrat government..They will have to raise the debt ceiling on their own and they have the tools to do it.”
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) September 16, 2021
Ok, I have to admit, I like it when McConnell goes all Cocaine Mitch on someone.
Besides, why is Janet Yellen calling McConnell to lobby for Senate Democrats? I was assured she was a non-partisan actor. If Yellen is worried about default, she could call up Chuck Schumer and ask for spending cuts? Obviously, the issue is more complicated than that, but still, it’s odd to see McConnell pressured when it is Democrats who hold all the power.
After all, the debt ceiling could theoretically be raised via reconciliation, requiring all 50 Senate Democrats to join hands to do it. But Yellen’s plea may signal trouble in paradise. We already know Sen. Joe Manchin is not keen on spending anywhere close to $3.5 trillion nor is he supportive of some of the tax increases being proposed. And while Manchin is the public face of Democrat opposition, there are several others hiding in the shadows, using the West Virginia senator as cover.
Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi has said she will not use the reconciliation bill to up the borrowing limit. So what exactly is her plan? With McConnell saying no to a compromise, and Sen. Ted Cruz pledging to filibuster any attempt through normal procedures, Democrats are stuck in the position of having to fully own their tax and spending plan or to not get any of it at all. Though Republicans would obviously like to be in the majority and outright block Pelosi and Schumer’s play, they have to like their current position given the circumstances.
Of course, the chief question here is whether McConnell can hold the line. If the government shuts down, the media onslaught is going to be massive. Push polls will flood the zone showing the GOP losing support for 2022. When that happens, will the Republicans stick to their guns? Or will Democrats end up folding and just passing a debt ceiling raise by themselves? I guess we’ll find out.