WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer warned Monday that Congress must pass legislation raising the debt ceiling by the end of the week to avoid defaulting on the nation’s debt.
The New York Democrat wrote in a letter to Senate Democrats that lawmakers “do not have the luxury of waiting” until Oct. 18, the date that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the government will likely exhaust its extraordinary measures to keep the debt limit suspended.
“The consequences of even approaching the X date could be disastrous for our economy and devastating to American families, raising the costs of borrowing for average Americans and hampering our economic recovery over the long-term,” Schumer said.
President Joe Biden spoke about the need for Congress to raise the debt ceiling and the risk of a default.
“We’re going to have to raise the debt limit, we’re going to meet those obligations, and raising the debt limit is usually a bipartisan undertaking,” Biden said in remarks from the White House. “And it should be. That’s what is not happening today.”
Schumer said that “if Leader McConnell and his colleagues continue to obstruct our ability to quickly resolve the debt issue,” then the Senate will likely have to remain in session over the coming holiday weekend and potentially through the congressional recess next week.
Senate Republicans have insisted Democrats raise the limit without Republican votes, blocking a vote on a government funding bill offered by Democrats last week because it included a debt ceiling extension.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sent a letter to Biden on Monday saying the limit should be lifted without Republican support. He argues that if Democrats want to pass a $3.5 trillion spending package on their own, they should also raise the debt limit on their own.
“The American people cannot afford the same rudderless drift toward danger with respect to the full faith and credit of our nation,” he wrote, saying the GOP has no list of demands. “For two and a half months, we have simply warned that since your party wishes to govern alone, it must handle the debt limit alone as well.”
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told reporters on Monday, however, that he wants the Senate to use a budgetary process called reconciliation to raise the debt limit, which Schumer has ruled out. He said, despite the deadline, the chamber shouldn’t rush or consider eliminating the filibuster.
“Well, they shouldn’t rule out anything. We just can’t let the debt ceiling lapse. We just can’t,” he said. “The filibuster has nothing to do with the debt ceiling. Basically, we have other tools that we can use and if we have to use them we should use them.”
Dartunorro Clark and Julie Tsirkin contributed.