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Senate Republicans Thwart Government Funding, Debt Ceiling Proposal

September 28, 2021 by Reece Nations
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks to the chamber for a test vote on a government spending bill, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Sept. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans opted to oppose a funding bill needed to suspend the debt ceiling and prevent a government shutdown in a procedural vote on Monday.

The measure failed by a margin of 48 in favor to 50 against, with 60 votes needed for the legislation to advance the Democratic proposal. Now the threat of a government shutdown and debt-limit breach inches closer to reality as Republicans aim to undermine the agenda of President Joe Biden.

Republicans are refusing attempts by Democrats to raise the limit on federal borrowing despite having voted to increase the debt cap by trillions when their party controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House during former President Donald Trump’s administration. Republican lawmakers have previously indicated they will not support a debt limit increase unless Democrats agree to pass spending cuts and debt reduction measures, TWN previously reported.

“We are willing to work together to keep the government open,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a written statement. “We are not willing to help Democrats raise the debt ceiling while they write a reckless taxing and spending spree of historic proportions behind closed doors. Democrats control the entire government — the Senate, the House, and the White House. They intend to sideline Republicans and go it alone to slam American families with historic tax hikes and borrowing.”

The debt limit was reinstated in August following a two-year suspension and the date on which the United States government is unable to meet all its financial obligations in full and on time could come as soon as mid-October, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center. Republicans are dead set on stockpiling political ammunition against vulnerable midterm opponents by forcing Democrats to raise the debt ceiling on their own through the reconciliation process.

Congress has until Thursday to pass measures to fund the federal government and avoid a shutdown. Failing to do so could lead to hundreds of thousands of federal workers becoming furloughed once funding for most federal agencies expires.

“It’s one of the most reckless, one of the most irresponsible votes I’ve seen taken in the Senate, and it should send a signal to every family, small business, market watcher, about who in this chamber is in favor of endangering the economic stability of our country,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in remarks from the Senate floor following the vote.

Schumer took to Twitter once the Senate adjourned to point out the federal debt increased by nearly $8 trillion under Trump and Republicans only voted to default when the Democrats were in power. Schumer also promised to take additional action this week on the debt ceiling in order to “avoid economic harm.”

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