U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley said on Wednesday Democrats should raise the nation’s debt ceiling themselves as they push new legislation to increase spending on health and education that Republicans do not support.
Senate Republicans on Monday blocked a bill that would have maintained federal government funding until early December and raised the federal debt ceiling – the amount of money the U.S. government can borrow for pay his bills.
Grassley, a Republican who recently announced he would run for re-election in 2022, said on a call with reporters on Wednesday that his party had always told Democrats where they stood and that “Monday’s vote no shouldn’t have been a surprise.
“We have been saying quite clearly for months that we will not encourage tax and spending madness, and that we will vote against raising the debt ceiling,” he said.
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Congress is now moving forward with a bill to maintain government funding until early December, with no wording raising the debt ceiling after Republicans objected to tying the two together .
The federal government could shut down on Friday if Congress does not approve the funding. And Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the United States would hit debt limit on October 18, which would cause the country to default on its debt and trigger economic chaos.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said his party was working to avoid a government default but had been blocked by Republicans.
“Secretary Yellen warned that a default would be disastrous for millions of families and workers,” he wrote on Twitter. “Senate Republicans have solidified as the default party. We are working to raise the debt ceiling and prevent irreparable economic damage to individuals and families.”
Grassley and other Republicans opposed for months Democrats’ planned “reconciliation” legislation that would expand medicare, subsidize day care centers, fund community colleges and fund climate change programs.
The bill is being crafted so that it can be passed without the support of Republicans in the Senate, which is currently split 50-50. It would cost $ 3.5 trillion over 10 years, although details are still being worked out as Congressional Democrats struggle to rally all of their members. At least part of the cost of the bill would be paid by raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
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Grassley said Republicans “could easily help Democrats” raise the debt ceiling if Democrats abandon their spending plans. But if the party doesn’t want to consult Republicans on their legislation, they shouldn’t expect the GOP to help raise the debt ceiling, he said.
“Democrats control both houses of Congress and the White House,” Grassley said. “They designed their multibillion-dollar spending plan to pass without Republicans ‘input. Likewise, they don’t need Republicans’ help to raise the debt ceiling. . If the government closes its doors, the Democrats will be responsible. “
Grassley voted for previous debt ceiling increases, including under Republican President Donald Trump.
Democrats in the US House are also trying to push through a $ 1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill this week, which Grassley voted for in the Senate this summer. Some House progressives say they plan to vote against the bill if it comes to a vote before the larger spending bill is ready.
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Grassley said he didn’t care whether the infrastructure bill could pass in the House, saying it was something House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden needed to understand.
“I’m not because it’s Pelosi’s problem and Biden’s problem,” he said. “I voted for and it is good policy.”
USA Today contributed to this report.