Senate conservatives will filibuster any attempt to raise the debt ceiling that they can, closing off one of Democrats’ pathways to avoiding a U.S. default later this fall.
While the GOP has vowed it won’t give Democrats the affirmative votes they need to raise the borrowing limit, the party could theoretically decline to filibuster a debt bill, allowing Democrats to increase the nation’s credit cap with a simple majority vote in the Senate. But Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said in an interview that he won’t allow that to happen, echoing his party’s growing insistence that default be avoided along party lines using the budget reconciliation process — a tactic Democratic leaders have thus far eschewed.
“Democrats have the full ability to raise the debt ceiling as a part of reconciliation,” Cruz said. “They want political cover.”
Democrats have said they want lifting the debt ceiling to be a bipartisan exercise, particularly since much of the current debt was racked up under Trump.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday that “neither party can wash its hands of responsibility to pay the bills. Leader McConnell keeps talking about the new spending that Democrats have done. That’s not this debt.”
But Republicans could ease that path by declining to request 60 votes, a step they mulled in 2014 as well before Cruz made clear he’d filibuster that effort too. Asked why the GOP shouldn’t allow Democrats to raise the debt ceiling without a filibuster this time, Cruz responded: “They have 100 percent control and ability to raise the debt ceiling on reconciliation. And the only reason they wouldn’t do so is to play political games.”
Democrats are instead seeking at least 10 GOP votes to raise the debt ceiling, which are in short supply at the moment with 46 Republicans currently opposing any increase to the borrowing limit. They could add the debt ceiling into their planned multitrillion-dollar social spending bill, but currently lack the votes to do so.
The debt ceiling is expected to be be breached sometime in October, according to the Biden administration.