McConnell threatens to block another debt ceiling hike and lashes out at Schumer’s ‘bizarre spectacle’

The Senate Republican leader said the nation had been at the “doorstep of disaster”

Helen Elfer
Saturday 09 October 2021 21:05
Senate Republicans Join Democrats to Pass $480B Debt Ceiling Hike

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has warned that Republicans will not cooperate to raise the debt ceiling again, in an open letter highly critical of Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who delivered a scathing rebuke of the GOP’s actions in the days and weeks leading up to the ultimate vote.

On Thursday, Mr McConnell voted with Democrats to allow for a temporary extension of the debt limit until early December. Previously, he and the Republican caucus stood staunchly opposed to working with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling. If the debt ceiling weren’t raised, the US would default on its debts for the first time in history, triggering chaos in the global economy and wrecking the United States’ credit rating.

In a letter to Mr Biden on Friday, McConnell said: “I write to inform you that I will not provide such assistance again if your all-Democrat government drifts into another avoidable crisis.”

He blamed Democrats for the crisis and was particularly scathing of Mr Schumer.

“Senator Schumer marched the nation to the doorstep of disaster,” he said. “Embarrassingly, it got to the point where Senators on both sides were pleading for leadership to fill the void and protect our citizens. I stepped up.”

The Senate voted 50-48 on Thursday in favor of the extension after 11 Republicans, including Mr McConnell, broke ranks to help Democrats overcome a filibuster and enable a debt ceiling deal to move forward.

Earlier in the week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had warned of “catastrophic economic consequences” if the debt limit was not raised and the US defaulted for the first time in history.

After the vote, Mr Schumer gave a floor speech late on Thursday, which was criticised on both sides of the aisle as being overly partisan.

The New York Democrat said: “Republicans played a dangerous and risky partisan game, and I am glad that their brinksmanship did not work. For the good of America’s families, for the good of our economy, Republicans must recognize in the future that they should approach fixing the debt limit in a bipartisan way.”

In his letter, Mr McConnell called Mr Schumer’s speech “a bizarre spectacle”, despite the fact that Mr McConnell himself is no stranger to fiery rhetoric.

“Senator Schumer exploded in a rant that was so partisan, angry, and corrosive that even Democratic senators were visibly embarrassed by him and for him,” Mr McConnell wrote.

Frustrations have been building for months over the issue, with Republicans arguing that Democrats must address the debt limit through budget reconciliation, and Democrats saying it’s a shared bipartisan responsibility and the reconciliation process is too lengthy and risky.

While this debt ceiling extension avoids an immediate economic crisis, it does not resolve the underlying dispute.

The House is expected to convene Tuesday to approve the extension.

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