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Pelosi calls GOP debt limit stance 'irresponsible beyond words'

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·3 min read
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday harshly criticized Republican leaders as Washington is again locked in a high-stakes game of brinkmanship over the U.S. debt limit.

"Isn't that irresponsible beyond words?" Pelosi said during an interview on ABC's "This Week."

The U.S. government is poised to run out of money in mid-October, raising the specter of a federal default that could teeter financial markets and cause missed payments on Social Security and military pay.

[See also: Why Congress can’t quit playing chicken with the debt ceiling]

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi discusses the debt limit in an interview. (Screenshot: Twitter/@ThisWeekABC)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi discusses the debt limit in an interview. (Screenshot: Twitter/@ThisWeekABC)

Over the past few decades, Congress has consistently raised or suspended the debt ceiling — which limits the U.S. government's ability to borrow money to pay its bills. During the Trump administration, the debt ceiling was suspended three times.

"We cooperated on three occasions when President Trump was president in order to lift the debt ceiling," Pelosi said Sunday. "Even to have the discussion that it could possibly be in default lowers ... our credit rating."

House Democrats approved a measure last week, via a party-line vote, to both continue funding the government through December and lift the debt limit into December 2022. But that legislation is expected to face a Senate GOP filibuster, which means it will take 10 Republican votes to pass the 50-50 chamber. A government shutdown also looms Oct. 1 if a stopgap funding measure does not pass.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to provide his support, suggesting that Democrats should instead enact the debt measure through the filibuster-proof reconciliation process. McConnell tied his opposition to the massive spending packages that Democrats are hoping to advance this week.

"Let me make something perfectly clear: If they don't need or want our input, they won't get our help. They won't get our help with the debt limit increase that these reckless plans will require," McConnell said on the Senate floor in August.

"The debt ceiling will be raised, as it always should be," McConnell said last week. "But it will be raised by the Democrats."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is flanked by reporters as he returns to the Senate chamber for a vote after attending a bipartisan barbecue luncheon, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell last week on Capitol Hill. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Top Democrats have rejected using reconciliation to address the debt ceiling, noting that the procedural hurdles of the Byzantine budgetary process could make passing such a measure difficult before the U.S. government faces default. Pelosi also said Sunday that she wants the debt vote to be bipartisan.

"This is beyond a big deal," she said. "So let's hope the Republicans will find — enough of them — find some level of responsibility to our country, to honor what's in the Constitution, that we not question the full faith and credit of the United States of America. They know full well what the consequences are. They preached it when the former president was in office."

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