Schumer: Raising debt ceiling through majority vote under reconciliation would be 'risky'

Republican lawmakers have indicated they will not vote for any bill that would suspend the borrowing limit

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Wednesday that Democrats would not raise the debt ceiling through the budget reconciliation process despite ongoing resistance from Republican lawmakers ahead of a crucial deadline.

Republican lawmakers have indicated they will not vote for any bill that would suspend the borrowing limit, forcing Democratic leaders to seek other options to prevent a U.S. default. During a Wednesday speech on the Senate floor, Schumer said the chamber "cannot and will not" add language regarding a debt ceiling hike to President Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending bill.

"To do this through reconciliation requires ping-ponging separate bills back from the Senate and the House. It’s uncharted waters," Schumer said. "Individual senators could move to delay and delay and delay. It is very risky and could well lead us to default, even if only one senator wanted that to happen."


"That’s very possible. So you can’t do it this route. Everyone who has studied it knows it is risky, and it’s simply a political gambit by Leader McConnell, who has changed his tune several different times," Schumer added.

Democrats can pass the $3.5 trillion spending package with a simple majority vote, but adding a debt ceiling measure to the bill would require lawmakers to attach a specific number for the hike. The addition would likely result in a significant delay as Democrats reworked proposed legislation to account for the measure.

Schumer first sought to raise the debt ceiling by bundling the hike with stopgap government funding and hurricane relief. Later, he asked the Senate for unanimous consent to pass the debt suspension on a standalone basis by a simple majority vote. GOP lawmakers blocked both initiatives.

Republicans argue a debt ceiling hike would facilitate spending on Democrat legislative priorities that will increase the federal deficit.


"There is no chance the Republican Conference will go out of our way to help Democrats conserve their time and energy so they can resume ramming through partisan socialism as fast as possible," McConnell said earlier this week.

The Treasury said U.S. cash reserves will be depleted by Oct. 18. Without a ceiling hike, the government risks defaulting on its debt obligations for the first time in history.