Schumer, McConnell clash over raising debt limit as Democrats put forth plan to fund government, increase borrowing

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WASHINGTON – Democratic and Republican leaders clashed Monday over funding the federal government and raising the nation's limit on borrowing, leaving the issues unresolved as Democratic leaders unveiled a plan for voting on both at once.

The problem is two-fold. Congress hasn’t approved funding for the government for the year that begins Oct. 1, so lawmakers need a temporary spending measure by then. The so-called continuing resolution would keep the government functioning until year-long legislation is approved.

In addition, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that the country will reach its limit on borrowing in mid-October, so the ceiling must be raised.

The battle comes amid a debate on President Joe Biden's domestic agenda, with votes expected soon on $1.2 trillion for infrastructure and $3.5 trillion for priorities such as expanding Medicare and publicly funded education. But first Republicans have provoked a fight over borrowing for what they call reckless taxing and spending.

"The forthcoming legislative agenda has not incurred any debt, not a nickel of debt," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to reporters as work continues on the Democrats' Build Back Better Act, massive legislation that is a cornerstone of President Joe Biden's domestic agenda, at the Capitol, in Washington on Sept. 14, 2021.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to reporters as work continues on the Democrats' Build Back Better Act, massive legislation that is a cornerstone of President Joe Biden's domestic agenda, at the Capitol, in Washington on Sept. 14, 2021.

Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced Monday they would propose a single bill to provide temporary funding for the federal government until December and suspend the debt limit until December 2022. Pelosi said the House would vote this week on the joint measure.

But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Republicans would refuse to help raise the debt limit. He said Democrats who control the White House, House and Senate refused to negotiate with Republicans about how to spend money, so they can raise the limit on borrowing on their own.

“The reckless taxing and spending spree the Democrats are writing behind closed doors is designed to leave Americans with a socialist country they never voted for, a country that working families in many ways would barely recognize,” McConnell said.

McConnell said Republicans would support a continuing resolution that maintained current federal spending, with additions for disaster relief and Afghan refugee assistance. The Biden administration has asked for $24 billion for disaster relief and $6.4 billion for Afghan assistance.

Pelosi and Schumer have each called Republicans irresponsible for refusing to raise the debt limit for spending approved under the Trump administration. Legislation to provide $1.2 trillion for infrastructure and $3.5 trillion for social programs hasn’t been approved yet, so it doesn’t yet require more borrowing.

Schumer said suspending the limit until December 2022 would correspond to the $908 billion approved last year for relief from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Republicans are doing a dine-and-dash of historic proportions," Schumer said. "Anyone who says this is Democratic debt is not talking fact, they're talking fiction. Both sides have a responsibility to pay the debt we have already incurred."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: McConnell, Schumer clash over debt limit as Dems. pitch funding plan

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