Republicans in the United States Senate appear likely to hold firm on a pledge not to help Democrats increase the federal debt ceiling which, at the moment, will mean taking the nation a step closer to a government shutdown.
Democratic leadership in the Senate was expected to bring to the floor for a vote late this afternoon a continuing resolution to fund the government until December and thus avoid a shutdown. But the bill, which passed the House last week on a straight party-line vote, also includes language to suspend the debt limit. Republicans have been warning since mid-summer they would oppose a debt limit increase under any circumstances, even if meant shutting down the government.
Republicans say they don't want the government to shut down and would support a stand-alone bill to fund the government, but won't allow Democrats to use the threat of a shutdown to get them to vote to increase the debt ceiling.
"Are you willing to have the government shut down, all of you?" a reporter asked Republican Senators during a news conference last week,
"I am not going to vote to raise the debt ceiling," said Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), "This is a decision that Democrats are going to make. They have every vote they need to do this on their own."
Oklahoma's two Senators have made clear they also have no intention of supporting a debt limit increase, especially when Democrats, they say, are allowing them no input on their massive Build Back Better human infrastructure package.
Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) says, if the Democrats are comfortable using the budget reconciliation process to pass their tax-and-spend bill, they can also use it to raise the debt ceiling.
"They have the ability to do it on their own," Sen. Lankford said in an interview last week. "Democrats have control of the House, the Senate, and the White House, and they’ve shown a willingness just to be able to run over half of the American people and say we don’t care what you think."
Democrats continue to argue raising the debt limit so that the government doesn't default on its loans has always been a shared responsibility, and they point out that they joined Republicans in doing so three times under President Trump.
"Every single member of this chamber is going to go on record as to whether they support keeping the government open and averting a default," said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Majority Leader, "or support shutting us down and careening our country towards a first-ever default."