Biden says Republicans are being ‘reckless’ over the debt limit increase.
  • 5.10.2021
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Mr. Biden warned Republicans “not to use procedural tricks to block us from doing the job.”

President Biden urged congressional leaders to raise the debt ceiling on Monday, excoriating Republicans for what he said was “reckless” and “disgraceful” obstruction ahead of a default deadline later this month that he warned would amount to “a self-inflicted wound that takes our economy over a cliff.”

Mr. Biden, trying to convey the risks to everyday Americans, warned that they could see the effects as early as this week if Senate Democrats were not able to vote to raise the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling controls the amount of money the government can borrow to fulfill its financial obligations, including Social Security checks, salaries for military personnel and other bills.

“It starts with a simple truth: The United States is a nation that pays its bills and always has,” Mr. Biden said. “If we’re going to make good on what has already been approved by previous Congresses, and previous presidents and parties, we have to pay for it.”

The remarks presaged increased public engagement by Mr. Biden on an issue that risks economic crisis.

Mr. Biden pointed out that Republicans had voted several times to increase the debt limit under President Donald J. Trump but are using a filibuster to block any attempt by Democrats to raise it this time around. He said that he would not be expecting Republicans to “do their part,” but he warned them “not to use procedural tricks to block us from doing the job.”

Technically, the United States hit its debt limit at the end of July, following a two-year extension that Congress agreed to in 2019. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen has been using “extraordinary measures” since then to delay a default. Those are essentially fiscal accounting tools that curb certain government investments so that the bills can continue to be paid.

Ms. Yellen warned Congress last week of “catastrophic” consequences should lawmakers fail to suspend or raise the statutory debt limit before Oct. 18, which the Treasury believes is the date the United States will run out of enough money to pay all its bills.

Congress raises the debt limit to cover spending it has already approved, and the Treasury has warned that failure to do so would tank financial markets and have wide-ranging impact on Americans: Defaulting could pause Social Security checks, delay the pay of military troops, and interfere with child tax credit payments.

But Republicans — who had voted to raise the debt cap by trillions when their party controlled Washington — have moved to block a spending bill needed to avoid default. Instead, Republicans including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, have sought to place political responsibility on Democrats, who are at the same time seeking to advance a sprawling social policy bill that could cost as much as $3.5 trillion.

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