Republican senators have blocked a bill to keep the government running because it also included an attempt to raise the government's debt ceiling.
Republicans say Democrats should do that by themselves because their underlying goal is to establish trillions of dollars in new partisan spending plans pushed by President Biden, socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and House "squad" members like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
There are four major things happening at the same time on Capitol Hill, and it can be confusing to watch. They include:
- A bipartisan $1.2 trillion physical infrastructure bill to pay for projects like roads and bridges;
- A controversial $3.5 trillion federal overhaul that creates new social programs like free community college and free pre-K;
- An attempt to avert a government shutdown since Congress hasn't separately voted to fund the day to day functioning of the government;
- An attempt to raise the federal government's borrowing limit, also referred to as the debt ceiling.
In their latest move, Democrats tried to connect the shutdown with the debt ceiling. The part about the debt ceiling is where Republicans are drawing the line.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says if Democrats want the U.S. government to continue to borrow trillions of dollars to fund new social programs, then they'll have to raise the debt ceiling on their own.
"Republicans are not rooting for a shutdown or a debt limit breach," McConnell said.
Tonight Senate Democrats blocked a clean bill to fund the government. They had an opportunity to take a bipartisan step toward guaranteeing there'll be no shutdown but instead they are playing politics. https://t.co/RN6Dx5MPFN
— Leader McConnell (@LeaderMcConnell) September 28, 2021
A Fox reporter noted McConnell also said that when Republicans had unified control of both houses of Congress in the early 2000s, then-Senators Biden and Schumer voted "no" on a debt limit increase and "made the party in power handle it on their own."
For now, Democrats may decide to just fund the federal government to avoid a shutdown and then work on raising the debt limit later. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted, "We'll take further action this week to raise the debt ceiling and avoid economic harm."
Right now the U.S. owes more than $28.8 trillion and there's no plan in place to ever start paying that down.