- Title: On the brink on Capitol HIll: Bracing for a showdown on debt ceiling
- Date: 28th September 2021
- Summary: WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (SEPTEMBER 28, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) REPUBLICAN U.S. SENATOR, TED CRUZ, SAYING: "It's not going to succeed, he knows it's not going to succeed, I announced weeks ago that I am going to object to it. Schumer has 100 percent ability to raise the debt ceiling, using only democratic votes, using budget reconciliation. And he could have raised the debt ceiling last week, he could have raised it months ago. The reason he hasn't is he is trying to play political games." WHITE FLASH (SOUNDBITE) (English) REPUBLICAN U.S. SENATOR, TED CRUZ, SAYING: "If the United States defaults on the debt it would be catastrophic. And it would entirely be the fault of Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. Schumer can raise the debt ceiling any time he wants using the debt ceiling any time he wants using only democrats. All the rest of this is just political games, and it is cynical, and Schumer needs to stop holding the American economy hostage for his partisan objectives." CRUZ ENTERS ELEVATOR SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY, REPUBLICAN OF LOUISIANA WALKING OVER TO REPORTERS (SOUNDBITE) (English) SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY, REPUBLICAN OF LOUISIANA, SAYING: "This is real simple. The democrats control the presidency, they control the House, and they control the Senate. And that means that Senator Schumer, as majority leader has virtually unfettered discretion to bring any bill he wants to bring to the senate floor. All senator Schumer has to do to solve this problem is to bring a bill, amending the budget resolution, he can easily pass it with 50 democratic votes, and vice president Biden's vote breaking the tie. Now we have a lot of problems. That don't have easy solutions. This one has a very very easy solution." WHITE FLASH (SOUNDBITE) (English) SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY, REPUBLICAN OF LOUISIANA, SAYING: "There's a very simple solution here. If Senator Schumer and Biden won't take it, you ought to ask yourselves why. And I think I know the reason." WHITE FLASH (SOUNDBITE) (English) REPUBLICAN SENATOR, RON JOHNSON OF WISCONSIN, SAYING: "And again, it shouldn't create a crisis at all. We have more than enough money to service our debt, there's no reason to default. We have more than enough money to take care of most of the entitlements And democrats will have to step up to the plate, take responsibility, be held acceptable, and you know stop playing chicken with this. There's no reason for it whatsoever." JOHNSON WALKS AWAY
- Embargoed: 12th October 2021 20:11
- Keywords: Biden Cruz Johnson Kennedy McConnell Schumer Yellen democrats government shutdown potential credit default
- Location: WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES / INTERNET
- City: WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES / INTERNET
- Country: USA
- Topics: Budget/Taxation/Revenue,Government/Politics,United States
- Reuters ID: LVA005EWMXPAF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: President Joe Biden's fellow Democrats sought to head off both a government shutdown and a potentially economically crippling U.S. credit default on Tuesday (September 28) while also trying to agree on a mammoth tax and spending package for his ambitious social policy agenda.
Democrats had hoped to avoid a partial government shutdown and to suspend the federal debt ceiling with a single vote.
But they were blocked on Monday in the Senate by Republicans, who said the two matters should be dealt with separately.
On Tuesday, Democrats moved to tackle those issues on their own.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said he would try to hold a vote to raise the debt limit, which could pass with just the support of the chamber's 48 Democrats and the two independents allied with them.
But Republicans would still need to agree to hold the vote in the first place, and several members of the party have said they oppose that idea.
The House of Representatives will also hold votes to extend government funding and raise the debt limit.
Lawmakers have just three days to avert a possible government shutdown by midnight Thursday, the end of the current fiscal year.
Failure to do so could results in furloughs for hundreds of thousands of federal workers in the middle of a public health crisis.
The Democrats hold slim majorities in the Senate and the House, which are up for grabs in next year's midterm elections.
Congressional Democrats also will seek a way to raise the government's $28.4 trillion borrowing cap before the Treasury Department runs out of ways to service the nation's debt.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the Treasury will likely exhaust extraordinary measures by Oct. 18.
Fiscal brinkmanship has become a regular feature of U.S. politics over the past decade thanks to ongoing partisan polarization.
The most recent government shutdown, occurring during the presidency of Biden's Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, lasted 35 days before ending in January 2019.
Democrats point out that much of the nation's new debt was incurred during Trump's administration.
A government shutdown or a default would be a setback for the Democrats, who have portrayed themselves as the party of responsible government after Trump's chaotic presidency.
Democrats are also struggling to unite behind two pillars of Biden's domestic policy agenda: a $1 trillion infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion social spending package.
Two key Democratic moderates, Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Senator Joe Manchin, headed to the White House on Tuesday to discuss the social spending bill, sources said.
Both senators have said the 3.5 trillion dollar price tag is too high.
Democrats originally planned to handle both bills in tandem.
But at a party caucus meeting on Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said her chamber would vote on the infrastructure bill on Thursday even though lawmakers are still negotiating the social spending bill, including its total cost.
Centrist Democrats have balked at the scale of the social spending package.
The White House and top lawmakers may narrow some benefits to bring the price tag down, sources say, but they have yet to settle on a figure.
(Production: Greg Savory, Julio-Cesar Chavez, Deborah Lutterbeck)
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