WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Joe Biden is urging Republicans not to use the filibuster to block Democrats in the Senate from raising the U.S. debt ceiling.
“If you don’t want to help save the country, get out of the way, so you don’t destroy it,” said Biden during remarks delivered Monday. “We don’t have time to delay with elaborate procedural schemes, which Republican proposals require, scores of votes without any certainty at all, many of which have nothing to do with the debt limit at all.”
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that if Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling by Oct. 18, the U.S. could default on its financial obligations for the first time in history.
“At that point, we expect Treasury would be left with very limited resources that would be depleted quickly. It is uncertain whether we could continue to meet all the nation’s commitments after that date,” wrote Yellen in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week.
The secretary added that the Oct. 18 deadline is the department’s best estimate and the federal government’s cash flows are subject to variability, meaning the money could last longer or shorter.
During his speech, Biden explained that Republicans won’t vote to raise the debt limit, and they want Democrats to do it alone. However, Biden says the GOP is also threatening to use the filibuster to block the measure, meaning the Democrats would need to get 60 votes instead of 50 votes to raise the debt ceiling.
“This would block the Democrats from meeting our obligations and responsibilities to prevent Congress from raising the debt limit,” said Biden. “So, let’s be clear, not only are Republicans refusing to do their job, they’re threatening to use their power to prevent us from doing our job: saving the economy from a catastrophic event.”
Biden explained that raising the debt limit comes down to paying what the U.S. already owes, not anything new.
The president blasted the GOP for standing in the way.
“I think, quite frankly, it’s hypocritical, dangerous and disgraceful,” said Biden. “Their obstruction and irresponsibility knows absolutely no bounds, especially as we’re clawing our way out of this pandemic. Democrats will meet our responsibility and obligation to this country. We’re not expecting Republicans to do their part. They made that clear from the beginning. We tried asking to no avail. We’re just asking them not to use procedural tricks to block us from doing the job that they won’t do.”
Biden also took some jabs at former President Donald Trump, saying the reason the U.S. has to raise the debt limit is in part because of the “reckless tax and spending policies under the previous Trump administration.”
“In four years, they incurred nearly $8 trillion in additional debt, in bills we have to now pay off,” said Biden.
Additionally, Biden warned of what could happen if the U.S. defaults on its debt. As soon as this week, Biden says Americans’ savings could be directly impacted by a failure to raise the debt ceiling.
“A failure to raise the debt limit will call into question Congress’ willingness to meet our obligations that we’ve already incurred. This is going to undermine the safety of the U.S. Treasury securities, and it will threaten the reserve status of the dollar as the world’s currency that the world relies on. American credit rating will be downgraded, interest rates will rise for mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, and borrowing,” said Biden.
Democrats had originally wanted to raise the debt ceiling in the same bill that extended government funding, but that move was blocked by Senate Republicans. Instead, a standalone government funding bill was passed and signed into law last week.
Both parties have voted to raise the debt limit in the past, with Democrats joining the Republican Senate majority in doing so three times during Donald Trump’s presidency, The Associated Press reports.
Now, however, the GOP has argued that Democrats have chosen to push through their political priorities on their own and thus are responsible for raising the debt limit on their own, reports the AP.