As infrastructure bill nears key vote, deficit takes a back seat


Mr McConnell threatened to withhold all Republican votes for an increase in the debt ceiling, a position Mr Hollen called “part of a model of hypocrisy.” Republicans repeatedly raised the debt ceiling during the Trump years, even after their tax cuts. But they caused a series of crises when a Democrat is in the White House.

Even some conservatives say the Republican inconsistency undermines the party’s arguments for fiscal correctness.

“Republicans would have a lot more credibility on the debt ceiling argument if they weren’t about to vote to add hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit” on the infrastructure bill, he said. said Brian Riedl, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute conservative and former economic assistant to Mr. Portman.

Democrats have a decision to make in the coming days. They could add a debt ceiling increase to their next budget resolution, ensuring the borrowing limit could be increased without the need for Republican votes this fall. But that option would have political costs: To do so, Senate rules require the provision to include a specific number for increasing the debt ceiling, like $ 10,000 billion, which Republicans would wrongly say. is the real cost of the social policy bill.

This is what Republicans really want.

“I think the majority has to solve this problem – they control the House, the Senate and the White House,” Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of the Republican leadership, told reporters.

If instead the debt ceiling is raised by a separate measure, the bill could simply set a date for the next debt ceiling increase, with no dollar figure. But it would take Republican votes in the Senate to break an obstruction, votes Mr McConnell said he would not provide.

Republicans have argued that debt ceiling confrontations have long been used to force a reluctant Congress to look into the structural issues that drive up debt. The 2011 debt ceiling crisis forced both sides to agree to the Budget Control Act, which restrained spending for nearly a decade, until it lapsed under Mr. Trump.

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