Democrats Can And Will Raise The Debt Ceiling On Their Own

Democrats Had Plenty Of Time To Avoid A Scramble To Raise The Debt Limit, Yet Chose To Leave It Out Of The Budget Resolution They Passed On A Party Line Vote In August And Are Still Refusing To Take The Necessary Steps Because Their ‘Leadership Has Said They Don’t Want To Do That’

SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “Our colleagues have plenty of time to get this done. It is laughable to hear some Democrats claiming they simply don’t have enough time. Last month Democrats introduced a sweeping budget resolution on August 9th and had passed it before sunrise on August 11th. Our Democratic colleagues have about a month. Plenty of time to do their job as a unified government and protect the full faith and credit of the United States. … Senate Democrats know what they need to do. They will need to write a short resolution amending their previous budget resolution with new debt limit instructions. They’ll take that to the Budget Committee, which will probably deadlock, so they’ll vote to discharge it — like they’ve done for other bills and nominations. Then a vote to proceed on the floor, a limited ‘vote-a-rama,’ and a vote on final passage. And then, once the budget has been amended, House and Senate Democrats would use the same fast-track process on a short and simple bill to actually raise the debt limit. This won’t be a multi-week process. Probably about a week of the Senate’s time or a little more. And they don’t have to wait on their reckless taxing and spending spree. They can move a stand-alone debt limit bill on its own.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 9/23/2021)


Leader McConnell Warned Senate Democrats Two Weeks Before They Introduced Their Reckless Taxing And Spending Spree Budget That They Would Have To Raise The Debt Ceiling On Their Own, Saying ‘They Need To Put It In The Reconciliation Bill’

July 21: “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is taking a very hard line on the debt ceiling. His message -- if Senate Democrats want to raise the debt ceiling, they’re going to have to do it themselves because no Republicans will vote for it in the current “environment” on Capitol Hill. … This is a loud warning shot across the bow to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, President Joe Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the entire Democratic establishment. A two-year suspension of the debt ceiling enacted by Congress in 2019 will expire at the end of July, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that the federal government could hit its borrowing limit quickly. Yellen has implored Congress to act, calling a possible default ‘unthinkable.’ McConnell, however, believes this is a problem for Democrats to handle. He thinks Democrats should include a debt ceiling increase or suspension in whatever reconciliation package they put together and pass it themselves on a party line vote.” (Punchbowl News, 7/21/2021)

  • LEADER McCONNELL: “I can’t imagine there will be a single Republican voting to raise the debt ceiling after what we’ve been experiencing... I can’t imagine a single Republican in this environment that we’re in now -- this free-for-all for taxes and spending -- to vote to raise the debt limit… I think the answer is they need to put it in the reconciliation bill.” (Punchbowl News, 7/21/2021)

August 5: LEADER McCONNELL: “In just a few days, our colleagues will start ramming through yet another reckless taxing and spending spree. ... But there’s something funny happening. Even as Democrats crow about how all this spending is so good and so needed, they’re petrified to vote for the credit limit increase that would make it possible! … They want Republicans to give them political cover for the partisan debt bomb that they’ll go right on to detonate with zero input from us. ... The sums that we borrowed and spent through 2020, through the last Administration, through the actual economic emergency, were largely covered by the previous debt suspension that just expired. Democrats want a new debt limit increase for the new borrowing and new spending that they have willfully piled up since they took power. About two trillion back in March. Trillions more sometime soon. They want to unleash another reckless taxing and spending spree with zero Republican inputs… oh, but when the bill comes, they say it’s time to split the check!” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 8/05/2021)

  • LEADER McCONNELL: “Initiating another budget reconciliation process in a 50-50 Senate is as willfully partisan, as go-it-alone, as it gets. Especially in a Senate that keeps proving we can do bipartisan work. If our colleagues want to ram through yet another reckless taxing and spending spree without our input, if they want all this spending and debt to be their signature legacy, they should leap at the chance to own every bit of it. Let me make something perfectly clear: if they don’t need or want our input, they won’t get our help. They won’t get our help with the debt limit increase that these reckless plans will require. I could not be more clear. They have the ability. They control the White House, they control the House, they control the Senate. They can raise the debt ceiling, and if it’s raised, they will do it.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 8/05/2021)

August 9: LEADER McCONNELL: “Democrats want Republicans to help them raise the debt limit so they can keep spending historic sums of money with zero Republican input and zero Republican votes. … Democrats have all the existing tools they need to raise the debt limit on a partisan basis. If they want 50 lock-step Democratic votes to spend trillions and trillions more, they can find 50 Democratic votes to finance it. If they don’t want Republicans’ input, they don’t need our help. It couldn’t be simpler. It couldn’t be more fair. Besides, I thought my colleagues were thrilled to present another reckless taxing and spending spree to the American people. I thought middle-class families were supposed to be delighted with their socialist shopping list. Shouldn’t Democrats be proud to own all the debt it requires? Our colleagues seem confident that Chairman Sanders’ vision is worth sticking our kids and grandkids with a massive bill. They deserve to have total ownership of that decision.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 8/09/2021)


But Senate Democrats Chose To Introduce A Budget Resolution That Did Not Include An Increase To The Debt Limit

August 9: Senate Democrats introduce S.Con.Res.14, the budget resolution outlining their reckless taxing and spending spree, without an increase to the debt limit. (S.Con.Res.14, Introduced 8/9/2021)

  • SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), Senate Budget Committee Chairman: “The $3.5 trillion Budget Resolution that I am introducing today will allow the Senate to move forward on a reconciliation bill that will be the most consequential piece of legislation for working people, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor since FDR and the New Deal of the 1930s. … Today, with Democrats in control of the Senate, we will use reconciliation...” (Sen. Sanders, Press Release, 8/9/2021)

August 11: Senate Democrats pass their reckless taxing and spending spree budget resolution on a party line vote. (S. Con. Res. 14, Roll Call Vote #357: Concurrent Resolution Agreed To 50-49, D 48-0; R 0-49; I 2-0, 8/11/2021)


Everyone Knows Democrats Can Raise The Debt Ceiling On Their Own

MAY 2021: Democrats also have the option of ignoring Republicans altogether on the debt ceiling, though it would require them to consider a budget resolution, setting the stage for using the reconciliation process so they only need a simple majority — and total party unity.” (“‘Doesn’t Matter’: Democrats Reject GOP’s Debt Limit Demands,” Politico, 5/14/2021)

Even Democrats Agree That They Can Raise The Debt Ceiling On Their Own But ‘Leadership Has Said They Don’t Want To Do That’

REP. JOHN YARMUTH (D-KY), House Budget Committee Chairman: “We can do it through reconciliation. Leadership has said they don’t want to do that. The reason is if we do that through reconciliation, we actually have to specify a number.” (MSNBC, 9/19/2021)

  • CNN’S KATE BOLDUAN: “Just to be fair, since you’re always candid, or at least pretend to be with me, the Democrats could raise this -- the Democrats could raise this on their own without Republicans?”
    YARMUTH: “We can pass a reconciliation motion. It would take several weeks to do that, to get it through both houses.” (CNN, 9/22/2021)
  • MSNBC’S CHUCK TODD: “Do you feel like, at the end of the day, you guys have to make sure you don’t default even if they don’t help you. I mean, I there is nobody that wants to talk about a plan b but can you imagine standing there letting this happen to prove a point? I can’t imagine that’s a scenario, can you?”
    YARMUTH: “No. We have to do whatever we have to do to keep from defaulting.” (MSNBC, 9/21/2021)

CNN’s JAKE TAPPER: “Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says the U.S. may hit its debt limit next month. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans will not vote to raise the debt limit. Will Democrats just fold it into a continuing resolution for -- on the budget or the reconciliation plan and pass it with only Democratic votes? What’s the plan there?”
REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC), House Majority Whip: “Well, I don’t know that we have a plan to do that, but I certainly would advocate doing that. …”
TAPPER: “But you’re not relying on your Republican friends to vote that way, right? You’re fine with it passing in a Democrats-only vote?”
“No, I’m not fine with that. But if that’s what it takes, that’s what it will take.” (CNN’s “State of the Union,” 9/19/2021)

CNBC’S JOE KERNEN: “You can’t raise the debt ceiling through reconciliation, senator? Someone told me that we decided that was possible.”
SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): “… I suppose you could go through vote-a-rama, again, but that is not going to happen.” (CNBC, 9/24/2021)

Indeed, Some Senate Democrats Regret Not Putting The Debt Ceiling In Their Massive Partisan Taxing And Spending Bill

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): “I wish we would have included the debt ceiling piece in the reconciliation bill, because I’m frankly just nervous about whether Republicans will go along.” (“Dems Seek To ‘Avoid A Shutdown, At All Costs’ As GOP Picks Debt Fight,” Politico, 9/22/2021)

Budget Expert On Raising The Debt Ceiling: ‘In Terms Of Timing, I Don’t Think There’s A Problem Here… I Think Most Probably More It Has To Do With Politics’

G. WILLIAM HOAGLAND, Senior Vice President at Bipartisan Policy Center: “In terms of timing, I don’t think there’s a problem here… If they want to move quickly, there’s time, 10 days, 15 days, they can put together a revised budget resolution very quickly. … Yes, it’s a tight schedule, but I think most probably more it has to do with politics…” (“Bipartisan Policy Center: Debt limit breach possible after Oct. 15,” Roll Call, 9/24/2021)


There Is Ample Precedent For The Party Controlling The White House And The Senate To Vote To Raise The Debt Limit On Its Own

In Fact, That Happened Five Times Under Majorities Of Both Parties Between 2003 And 2010

DONALD MARRON, Then-Head Of The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center: “Consider, for example, Senate votes on stand-alone debt limit measures over the past decade… When Republicans held both the Senate and the White House (2003, 2004, 2006), they provided virtually all the yea votes, while almost all Democrats voted no. When the Democrats were in power (2009, 2010), the roles reversed: the Democrats provided all but one of the yea votes, while Republicans voted no. Only when government was divided – with a Democratic Senate and a Republican president (2002, 2007) – has the vote to lift the debt limit been bipartisan.” (Donald Marron, “Handicapping the Debt Limit Debate,” 1/14/2011)


 (Donald Marron, “Handicapping the Debt Limit Debate,” 1/14/2011)

Nearly Every Democrat, Including President Biden and Senator Schumer, Voted Against Raising The Debt Ceiling When President Bush Was In The White House And Republicans Controlled The Senate

In 2006, every Democrat voted against raising the debt ceiling. (H.J.Res.47, Roll Call Vote #54: Joint Resolution Passed 52-48; R 52-3; 0-44; 0-1, 3/16/2006)

  • Then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), and Democratic Leaders Harry Reid (D-NV), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) all voted against raising the debt ceiling. (H.J.Res.47, Roll Call Vote #54: Joint Resolution Passed 52-48; R 52-3; 0-44; 0-1, 3/16/2006)

In 2004, only two Democrats voted to raise the debt ceiling. (S. 2986, Roll Call Vote #213, Bill Passed 52-44; R 52-1; D 2-42; I 0-1, 11/17/2004)

In 2003, only three Democrats voted to raise the debt ceiling. (H.J. Res. 51, Roll Call Vote #202: Joint Resolution Passed 53-44; R 50-1; D 2-43, I 1-0, 5/23/2003)

And In 1993, Majority Democrats Passed A Debt Limit Increase As Part Of A Reconciliation Bill That Raised Taxes By Hundreds Of Billions Of Dollars Without Any Republican Votes

Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993: “(Sec. 13411) Increases the public debt limit and repeals the temporary limit on such increase.” (H.R. 2264, 103rd Congress)

“President Clinton… won the most important victory of his young administration as a sorely divided Senate approved the heart of his economic program with a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Gore.… According to Democratic computations, the package will raise taxes by $241 billion ...” (“Senate Passes Clinton Budget Bill, 51-50, After Kerrey Reluctantly Casts 'Yes' Vote,” The Washington Post, 8/7/1993)



Related Issues: Senate Democrats