Democratic leaders are backing the White House’s plan to tie the debt ceiling increase to recovery aid for Hurricane Harvey victims in a bipartisan move that may upset some conservative members.
“Providing aid in the wake of Harvey and raising the debt ceiling are both important issues, and Democrats want to work to do both,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a joint statement.
“Given the interplay between all the issues Congress must tackle in September, Democrats and Republicans must discuss all the issues together and come up with a bipartisan consensus,” the two Democrats said.
The White House is seeking a clean debt ceiling bill, meaning an increase in the amount the government can borrow to pay it’s debts without spending or structural cuts.
The conservative House Freedom Caucus (HFC) will not support the plan to combine the two pieces of legislation if the bill doesn’t include measures to reduce government spending.
“It’s very clear that the majority of our members feel like attaching the debt ceiling, a clean debt ceiling, without structural reforms to Harvey relief is not something that they would support,” HFC Chairman Mark Meadows told reporters Tuesday after a caucus meeting.
“I think it’s bad policy that ultimately leaves the taxpayer holding the bag,” South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford told reporters after the HFC meeting Tuesday night.
Virginia GOP Rep. Dave Brat said he would support the combined Harvey and debt ceiling bill if it also included measures to limit government spending.
“You can do both at the same time. We can take care of Texas — and our hearts go out to them — and you can raise the debt ceiling in the short run if you show the American people that you’re serious about the future of fiscal sanity in this country, which we haven’t been for decades,” Brat said Tuesday on a conference call hosted by the conservative FreedomWorks.
“We’re going to get the debt ceiling passed. I think that everybody understands this is not a Republican issue, this is not a Democrat issue,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in August. “We need to be able to pay our debts.”
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