The White House shot back at Republicans on Wednesday as GOP leaders signaled they would not vote to raise the debt limit, despite a warning from the Congressional Budget Office that the Treasury Department could run out of money as soon as this coming October.
In a press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the administration expected Congress to act in a timely manner despite GOP threats, noting that the federal borrowing limit was successfully increased on a bipartisan basis three times during the previous administration.
"I would also note that Republicans raised the debt ceiling throughout the Trump administration, including after [putting] exorbitant deficit and debt-hiking [and] tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and big corporations on the country's credit card," Psaki said. "So that’s what we expect them to do."
She noted that raising the debt ceiling does not authorize new spending, but rather allows the Treasury Department to meet obligations that Congress has already approved.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said during an interview with Punchbowl News that he didn’t imagine there would be any Republicans that would vote to raise the debt ceiling.
"I can’t imagine a single Republican in this environment that we’re in now -- this free-for-all for taxes and spending -- to vote to raise the debt limit," McConnell told the publication.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on Capitol Hill on Wednesday that McConnell’s comments were "shameless, cynical and totally political."
"This debt is Trump debt. It’s COVID debt," Schumer said. "Democrats joined three times during the Trump administration to do the responsible thing and the bottom line is that Leader McConnell should not be playing political games with the full faith and credit of the United States. Americans pay their debts."
A two-year suspension of the debt ceiling – passed in 2019 – will expire at the beginning of August.
The Congressional Budget Office noted Wednesday that the Treasury Department could take "extraordinary" action and give Congress until later this fall to figure out a deal.
If lawmakers do not agree on either suspending or raising the debt ceiling, the federal government is at risk of defaulting on its obligations – "most likely in October or November," according to the CBO.