Debt ceiling battle looms ahead of Congress' return

Republicans are making clear they intend to oppose the full brunt of the significant increase in federal spending.
The United State Capitol

As Congress prepares to return from August recess, President Joe Biden’s plans for trillions in federal spending hang in the balance.

Congressional Republicans are making clear they intend to oppose the full brunt of the significant increase in federal spending, in particular Democrats' plans to raise the debt ceiling.

More than 100 Republicans have backed a public letter vowing not to raise the debt ceiling, which was surpassed in July and would need to be increased before enacting Biden’s federal spending plans.

"Democrats have embarked on a massive and unprecedented deficit spending spree,” the letter says. “Without a single Republican vote, they passed a $1.9 trillion ‘Covid relief’ bill in March. Now they have passed a $3.5 trillion Budget Resolution, again without a single Republican vote."

The debt ceiling could become a rallying point for Republicans looking to take a stand against Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill and the following $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, both of which are in flux.

"In order for this spending to occur, our nation’s debt limit will have to be increased significantly,” the letter says. “Because Democrats are responsible for the spending, they need to take responsibility for increasing the debt ceiling. They have total control of the government, and the unilateral ability to raise the debt ceiling to accommodate their unilateral spending plans. … Doing so would not require a single Republican vote, and would appropriately require each and every Democrat to take responsibility for their out-of-control spending.”

Republicans have taken issue with a range of provisions in the bills, but inflation, gas prices, immigration amnesty and Green New Deal measures have taken center stages as they rally opposition.

“Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats are inflaming disasters that they created,” said Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, one of the leading members behind the letter. “Thanks to their spending-fueled inflation, Americans’ paychecks have effectively been slashed. What’s Democrats’ plan? Spend another $3.5 trillion. Our border is overwhelmed, so they’re pushing for the largest amnesty in history. Gas prices have skyrocketed, and they want the Green New Deal."

House Republicans have allies in the Senate on this issue. Earlier this month, 46 Republican Senators signed a letter pledging they would not vote to raise the debt ceiling.

The letters from Republicans in both chambers give an idea of how the party will message its opposition to Biden’s spending, which does have some popular provisions. So far, the bill’s opponents have balked at the high price tag, including Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz, who said they cannot support a $3.5 trillion bill.

“However, I have serious concerns about the grave consequences facing West Virginians and every American family if Congress decides to spend another $3.5 trillion," Manchin said after the bill’s release. "Over the past year, Congress has injected more than $5 trillion of stimulus into the American economy – more than any time since World War II – to respond to the pandemic.”