On the matter of raising our nation’s debt ceiling, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, KY) and the Republican caucus in the Senate have been crystalline for months: Progressive-Democrats in both the House and the Senate have the votes to raise the debt ceiling by themselves, and they have the responsibility to do that, given their decision to pass spending bills with no Republican input, without even talking to Republicans in any serious fashion to seek their input on spending.
Now comes President Joe Biden (D).
He called on Republicans to “get out of the way” and let Democrats quickly raise the debt limit. Asked whether he could guarantee that the US would be able to raise the debt ceiling before the deadline, he put the onus on Republicans: “No, I can’t. That’s up to Mitch McConnell.”
Of course, it’s impossible for the Republicans, being the minority party in both houses of Congress, to be in the way in any shape or form. They can’t stop the Progressive-Democrats from raising the debt ceiling; they don’t have the votes.
All that’s required is for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D, NY) and his Progressive-Democrat caucus, along with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D, CA) with her Progressive-Democrat majority, to move the raise along through reconciliation—either as a stand-alone bill or by each house passing the extant reconciliation bill, then adding the debt ceiling raise during Conference Committee discussions. Bills coming out of Conference are passable via simple majority votes—no Senate filibusters on Conference-agreed bills.
The latter move, in particular, would let Schumer put Senators Joe Manchin (D, WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D, AZ) on the spot, forcing them to choose between reneging on their pious promises to not vote for a $3.5 trillion bill they say is too much to spend all at once and whose breadth of content they say is too broad in order to vote for a debt ceiling raise, or sticking to their promises and thereby vote down the debt ceiling raise.
Nor would that jeopardize a subsequent clean debt ceiling raise bill, should Manchin and Sinema prove themselves good for their promises: the Senate’s Parliamentarian has already said that the Senate’s two reconciliation bills per session limit would not be applicable. A third bill, dedicated to passing a debt ceiling raise, could be done functionally as reconciliation by “modifying” the second reconciliation bill.
Biden, Schumer, and Pelosi know all of this full well. They’re just trying to duck their personal and Party responsibilities.