Joe Manchin Pushes Senate Democrats to Take Responsibility for Potential Debt Default

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 01: Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) makes a statement in the Senate TV Studio on Capitol Hill on November 1, 2021 in Washington, DC. Manchin spoke about his approach during Democratic negotiations on the Biden administration's legislative agenda. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
Pete Marovich/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin has pushed Senate Democrats to take responsibility for solving the debt ceiling crisis, throwing the onus on the Democrat-controlled Senate to act before default.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has indicated the debt ceiling must be raised before December 15. If Senate Democrats fail to raise the debt ceiling, the United States will default on its debt for the first time.

Democrats have opposed taking responsibility for raising the debt limit in the past. In October, Democrats were bailed out by Republicans, extending the debt ceiling into December. Following the vote to extend the deadline to December, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) vowed to not aid the Democrats in raising the debt ceiling again due Sen. Chuck Schumer’s “childish behavior” on the Senate floor.

McConnell has so far not broken his promise, forcing Democrats to face raising the debt ceiling without ten Republican votes. Raising the debt ceiling requires 60 votes in the Senate.

Manchin told reporters Monday he would support the complicated mechanism of reconciliation to increase the debt ceiling, though Schumer has opposed the tactic due to time constraints.

Schumer’s Senate calendar is already piling up with legislative initiatives he intends to pass before Christmas, an aggressive timeline. The measures include passing a routine defense bill, funding the government, and passing the radical $1.9 trillion reconciliation package.

“I think that’s our responsibility, to make sure that we take care of the debt ceiling. Democrats are now in control, so we want to make sure we do it and do it right,” he admitted. “That pathway has been given. I don’t know what’s going to be done, but that pathway has been given.”

Manchin left open the possibility of working with Republicans raise the debt ceiling through reconciliation, perhaps hopeful the time-intensive mechanism may satisfy McConnell’s negotiating position.

“I understand there was an agreement from the Republicans to do a very quick reconciliation by itself for the debt ceiling only,” Manchin hinted.

Before the debt ceiling can be raised, Democrats must fund the federal government. Government funding will expire Friday. Senate Democrats are reportedly attempting to strike a deal with Republicans to partially find the government until late January. No deal has reportedly been struck.

If the Senate Democrats are unable to solve the legislative backlog, the $1.9 trillion reconciliation package that constitutes President Biden’s agenda will be delayed into an election year. Legislation is more difficult to pass in an election year because congressional members realign towards the middle to win votes from their electorates.

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø

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