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Sen. Ted Cruz said Thursday a government shutdown is possible if Majority Leader Chuck Schumer continues “playing political games.”
But Sen. John Cornyn believes there will not be one.
The federal government is set to run out of funding after the fiscal year ends Sept. 30. A shutdown would be the country’s first since late 2018, which lasted 35 days.
A looming default of the country’s debt limit has complicated discussions on how to fund the government. The Treasury Department has said that the government could default sometime in October, which would mark the first default in the country’s history.
Cornyn, R-Texas, on Tuesday said he ultimately believes Congress will fund the government in time to avoid a shutdown.
“We don’t want one, and they don’t want one. That should take care of it,” he said. “There’ll be a lot of scrambling and wailing and gnashing of teeth, but they’ll come up with a [bill] that will keep us going.”
Cruz, R-Texas, said Thursday that Democrats “want to foist political responsibility” of their spending onto Republicans.
“Republicans have made clear we’re not going to vote for the Democrats’ debt,” Cruz said. “I think when Schumer is done playing chicken, he will back down.”
Raising the debt limit is part of the House bill to extend government funding. A higher debt limit does not authorize new spending. It authorizes the government to pay bills that the country had previously racked up.
In August, 46 Senate Republicans — including Cornyn and Cruz — pledged to not support increasing the debt limit.
“If Schumer attaches the debt ceiling to a continuing resolution and insists that’s the only way of funding the government, then Schumer will force a shutdown,” Cruz said.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned in a Wall Street Journal op-ed a default could plunge the economy into a recession and leave the country “a permanently weaker nation.”
The House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would keep the government running through Dec. 3 and extend the debt ceiling until December 2022.
But in the Senate, the combined legislation requires 60 votes, meaning Democrats do not have enough support since they control 51 votes.
Republicans have called on Democrats to separate the pieces of legislation, using a separate process — which would not need any Republican support in the Senate — to extend the debt ceiling. Democrats have so far eschewed using that strategy.
In 2013, Cruz and House Republicans pushed for language in the government funding bill that would defund the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare — a proposition that drew the ire of Democrats and fellow Republicans, including Cornyn.
The effort led to a 16-day government shutdown. Cruz has since said that he “has consistently opposed shutdowns.”