Mitch McConnell says GOP won’t strike a deal with Democrats for the US to pay its bills on time, raising risk of derailing the economic recovery

mitch mcconnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., does a cable news interview before the start of a two-week recess, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, June 23, 2021.

  • McConnell ruled out GOP cooperation with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling.
  • “I can’t imagine there will be a single Republican voting to raise the debt ceiling after what we’ve been experiencing,” McConnell told Punchbowl News.
  • Treasury Secretary Yellen warned of an “absolutely catastrophic” hit to the recovery if the debt ceiling isn’t raised.
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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he doesn’t envision any Congressional Republicans voting alongside Democrats to renew the federal government’s authority to pay its bills.

That raises the prospects of derailing the economic recovery if the debt limit isn’t raised quickly enough.

“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,” McConnell told Punchbowl News, adding Democrats would have to raise it alone in a party-line bill that’s taking shape.

The Kentucky Republican’s remarks represents a major warning to Democrats as they begin assembling a $3.5 trillion reconciliation plan that’s poised to clear Congress without GOP votes. That’s the legislative pathway for certain bills to be approved with only a majority vote.

The federal government’s borrowing authority is set to end on July 30.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urged lawmakers to raise it as she testified before a panel last month, raising alarm about an “absolutely catastrophic” hit to the economic recovery if the government’s borrowing authority isn’t renewed. Raising the debt limit doesn’t mean federal spending will increase.

If the federal government defaults, Yellen said it could trigger a chain reaction of cash shortages starting with US bond holders that include individuals, businesses, and foreign governments.

The Treasury Department can tap into emergency powers to keep payments flowing until a certain date. But Yellen told Congress it’s tough to predict when those will be exhausted this summer given the economic uncertainty stemming from the pandemic.

Republicans voted to suspend the borrowing limit in July 2019 for two years under President Donald Trump. Experts say Democrats could raise the ceiling in a reconciliation package sometime this fall. But that would require them to list a numerical figure because of the process’s strict budgetary rules, opening the door for GOP political attacks on Democrats as big spenders while the national debt tops $28.5 trillion.

On Wednesday, Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina is set to hold a press conference about Democrats’ “reckless tax and spending spree.”

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