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Capitol Correspondence - 06.28.21

Big Picture: Debt Ceiling Discussions Could Affect Infrastructure Proposals

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ANCOR continues to monitor discussions surrounding the debt ceiling because of their potential to affect the advancement of the Better Care Better Jobs Act.

As reported by Politico:

“President Joe Biden’s infrastructure negotiations could get more complicated, thanks to the government’s need to keep paying its bills on time.

Democrats are weighing two starkly different options for raising the debt ceiling, with the federal government expected to reach the limits of its borrowing authority within months or even weeks. They could use the filibuster protections of the budget process to raise the debt ceiling and pass some or all of Biden’s infrastructure agenda without GOP support, or they could find 10 Senate Republican votes to suspend the debt limit by reaching a bipartisan deal.

Neither option is especially easy or palatable. The former path requires support from moderate Democrats, who aren’t sold on circumventing the normal legislative path and might face political blowback for voting to hike a national borrowing limit that’s already reached $28 trillion debt.

[…]

The debt ceiling, the limit on the government’s borrowing authority, is suspended through July 31. After that, the Treasury Department can deploy a variety of tactics to avoid missing payments or defaulting on the federal debt. But those measures may run out sooner than expected, setting up a possible collision this summer or fall between a debt fight and Democrats’ hopes to funnel trillions of dollars into strengthening the nation’s infrastructure.

Underscoring those concerns, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday urged Congress to raise or suspend the debt ceiling within the next month, floating the possibility of a crisis-level situation as early as August — when lawmakers are scheduled to be out of town.

Democratic leaders haven’t said how they plan to deal with the debt ceiling, and sources said the issue hasn’t been discussed much behind closed doors. […]

A debt ceiling extension could also get tucked into bipartisan infrastructure legislation or a bill to keep the government funded beyond Sept. 30, but then it would require the support of at least 10 Senate Republicans. Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the No. 3 Democratic leader and a senior member of the Budget Committee, said the party hasn’t decided what to do yet. Schumer’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.”