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Most GOP Senators Sign Pledge to Force Dems to Raise Debt Ceiling without Republican Votes

Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) asks questions during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs/Rules and Administration hearing to examine the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., March 3, 2021. (Greg Nash/Pool via Reuters)

46 Republican senators have pledged to abstain from voting to raise the debt ceiling in order to shift the onus to congressional Democrats to pay for their next massive expenditure and prevent the U.S. government from defaulting on its obligations.

The GOP initiative, revealed by Republican Senator Ron Johnson during an interview with the Wall Street Journal, is an effort to hold the Democrats accountable for financing their recent sweeping spending sprees. The four Republicans who didn’t include their signatures were Senators Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Richard Shelby, and John Kennedy. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell’s name is reportedly on the letter.

“They shouldn’t be expecting Republicans to raise the debt ceiling to accommodate their deficit spending,” Johnson told the Wall Street Journal.

Johnson spearheaded the petition and sent it around to his Republican colleagues once debate on the $3.5 trillion Democrat-backed budget framework commenced. That budget resolution, encompassing many Democratic legislative priorities such as climate change, health care, and education, is expected to pass the Senate without Republican support in the coming days.

Since the Democrats don’t have the 60 votes in an evenly split 50–50 Senate to increase the borrowing limit and pass the social-agenda bill through the traditional legislative avenue, they are resorting to the budget-reconciliation process. That back-door option only requires a simple majority to advance legislation.

Johnson’s letter, obtained by the Wall Street Journal, emphasized that Democrats should bear the burden for their exorbitantly expensive fiscal packages and the repercussions they may reap. It read, “Democrats, at any time, have the power through reconciliation to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling, and they should not be allowed to pretend otherwise.”

The document specified that Republicans would also refuse to suspend the debt ceiling through an alternative mechanism such as a stand-alone vote, a strategy that Democrats are considering deploying according to a source familiar with their discussions.

Johnson’s letter comes after Mitch McConnell urged Democrats to take ownership over their “socialist shopping list” and pay for it without Republican votes. He said the Democrats have already tried to “tax and spend our country into oblivion,” and vowed to take the GOP out of the equation for future spending rounds.

“Democrats have all the existing tools they need to raise the debt limit on a partisan basis. If they want 50 lockstep Democratic votes to spend trillions and trillions more, they can find 50 Democratic votes to finance it. If they don’t want Republicans’ input, they don’t need our help,” he said.

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