Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday pushed back on Republicans refusing to provide the votes to raise the debt ceiling and insisted that paying the country's bills is a bipartisan obligation.
"I cannot believe the Republicans will let the country default," Schumer, D-N.Y., said during a Capitol news conference.
"It has always been bipartisan to deal with the debt ceiling. When [Donald] Trump was president, I believe the Democrats joined with him to raise it three times."
Schumer's comments come after 46 Senate Republicans signed a letter pledging they will not vote to increase the debt ceiling, essentially putting the responsibility in Democrats' hands.
Led by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.., the letter is a rebuke of the Democrats' $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus law and the newly passed $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill.
"Because Democrats are responsible for the spending, they need to take responsibility for increasing the debt ceiling," the GOP senators said in their statement.
Senate Democrats early Wednesday passed a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint that Republicans have panned as a reckless spending spree that will drive up inflation. The legislation will serve as the vehicle for Democrats' broader goal of passing a so-called human infrastructure plan to make major investments in child care, education, health care and green energy that Schumer acknowledges will be "transformational" for America.
But the budget bill did not include language to raise the federal debt limit, although the ceiling on government borrowing expired Aug. 1. The Treasury Department is already using so-called "extraordinary measures" to keep the government paying its bills until Congress passes legislation to raise the borrowing limit.
Schumer said Wednesday that he prefers a stand-alone bill to raise the debt limit, in part, to ensure the effort is bipartisan.
But critics say since Democrats control the White House and Congress, the burden is on them to come up with the politically tough votes to increase the debt ceiling.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said since Democrats are using a partisan process called budget reconciliation to pass major new spending initiatives without GOP support, Republicans won't offer an assist on the debt ceiling.
"Let me make something perfectly clear: If they don’t need or want our input, they won’t get our help," McConnell said last week. "They won’t get our help with the debt limit increase that these reckless plans will require."