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McConnell predicts no Republicans will support raising debt ceiling

Black farmers fight for debt relief
Black farmers fight for debt relief 05:41

Washington — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell predicted Tuesday that no Republican will vote to raise the debt ceiling as Democrats move forward with a sweeping $3.5 trillion package that will include many of President Biden's policies on child care, education and health care.

"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 in an interview at the Capitol on Tuesday. "I think the answer is they need to put it in the reconciliation bill."

McConnell's comments drew a sharp rebuke from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who called them "shameless, cynical and totally political."

"This debt is Trump debt, it's COVID debt," he said in remarks on the Senate floor. "Democrats joined three times during the Trump administration to do the responsible thing, and the bottom line is that Leader McConnell should not be playing political games with the full faith and credit of the United States. Americans pay their debts."

A group of Senate Democrats last week reached a deal on the $3.5 trillion package that will encompass components of Mr. Biden's agenda on so-called "human" infrastructure, which the White House wants to move through Congress alongside the smaller, more targeted $600 billion bipartisan infrastructure framework.

Democrats plan to use a legislative process called budget reconciliation to pass the sweeping package, which would allow it to be approved in the Senate with a simple majority, and without Republican support. The package is expected to include Mr. Biden's priorities that were left out of the bipartisan infrastructure deal, including proposals on child care, health care, education and climate change.

But the Democrat-controlled Congress is in the early stages of the reconciliation process, as congressional committees will be tasked with turning the $3.5 trillion agreement into legislative text.  Additionally, the Treasury Department is staring down a July 31 expiration of a two-year suspension of the debt limit enacted under the Trump administration. 

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee last month that Congress failing to raise the debt ceiling would have "absolutely catastrophic economic consequences" that could lead to a financial crisis and said defaulting on the national debt "should be regarded as unthinkable."

"I would plead with Congress simply to protect the full faith and credit of the United States by acting to raise or suspend the debt limit as soon as possible," she said.

The national debt currently stands at $28.5 trillion.

Republicans have slammed the Biden administration and congressional Democrats for their new spending proposals and claimed the $3.5 trillion plan will lead to tax increases for American families. Senator John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming, on Tuesday said Democrats "seem to be determined to bankrupt America" and are engaging in a "reckless tax and spending spree."

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