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U.S. Senate Democrats plan debt-limit vote


U.S. Senate Democrats plan debt-limit vote
The U.S. Capitol building in the United States capital of Washington, D.C. - Reuters picture

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Washington, D.C. – Senate Democrats in the United States planned a third attempt on Wednesday to get Republicans to vote to raise the federal government’s borrowing authority and head off a catastrophic default, as one member warned they were “on the precipice now of the cliff”.

After a months-long standoff in which Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell repeatedly said his party would not vote to lift or extend the U.S. $28.4 trillion debt limit, President Joe Biden on Tuesday suggested he was open to changing the Senate’s filibuster rule to bypass the roadblock.

Hours before the planned vote, McConnell again said on Wednesday he thought Democrats should use the Senate’s reconciliation process to raise the debt ceiling without Republican votes.

With less than two weeks to go before the Treasury Department is expected to run out of ways to meet the government’s expenses around October 18, Democrats are looking at all their options.

“We’re on the precipice now of the cliff, and as you know, any day now, you could have a downgrade in our credit rating, our national credit rating,” Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen said.

“And that will cost hundreds of billions of dollars, trillions over time, so time is of the essence and that’s why we need to act.”

McConnell has been pushing Democrats to use reconciliation, as it did earlier this year to pass Biden’s U.S. $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package and planned to use again to pass a multitrillion-dollar bill to bolster the social safety net and fight climate change.

Democrats refused, saying Republicans should vote to raise the limit, since the debt includes about U.S. $8 trillion in spending approved during Republican Donald Trump’s presidency.