A group of 64 House Democrats pressed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to address the federal debt limit, arguing in a letter Monday that Republican opposition amounted to "dangerous malpractice" that could cripple the U.S. economy.
In the letter, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and his colleagues said Democrats backed efforts to raise the debt ceiling three times under former President Donald Trump. The lawmakers said McConnell should support a suspension of the limit to "avert a manufactured crisis," noting he had warned as recently as last week that the U.S. government "must never default."
"Whatever you think about the policy agenda that the current administration and the Democratic majorities in Congress are pursuing, we know you agree that it would be dangerous malpractice to allow our economy to be unnecessarily crippled by political uncertainty over a possible default on our obligations as a country," the Democratic lawmakers said.
The letter was published shortly before Senate lawmakers vote on whether to begin debate on legislation that would fund the government, earmark money for hurricane relief and suspend the debt limit. A funding package must pass this week to avoid a government shutdown.
Democrats are expected to fall short of the 60 votes needed to advance the bill, which was already approved in the House. McConnell and other GOP lawmakers who oppose raising the debt limit argue doing so would clear the way for Democrats to pursue costly policy initiatives passed along partisan lines.
"If they want to tax, borrow and spend historic sums of money without our input, they’ll have to raise the debt limit without our help. This is the reality. I’ve been saying this very clearly since July," McConnell said on the Senate floor last week.
Congress is expected to vote on President Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill later this week. Without Republican support, Democrats would have to pursue other avenues to raise the debt limit, such as including language in the reconciliation bill.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned of catastrophic economic consequences if the debt limit is not raised. Without a suspension, the U.S. could default on some of its payments as soon as October.