By Jessica Dean, Ted Barrett and Ali Zaslav, CNN
Updated: Tue, 14 Sep 2021 22:47:04 GMT
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer did not rule out including raising the nation's borrowing limit in the Democrats' massive economic plan which is currently being written.
"We are discussing all of the options with the President and Speaker Pelosi," Schumer said when asked if including the debt ceiling in reconciliation was an option.
Congress must act in order to raise the nation's borrowing limit. Reconciliation is a budget process by which the Senate can pass legislation with only 50 votes, meaning Democrats would not need Republican support.
Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN the debt limit would not be included in the economic plan currently being crafted by House and Senate Democrats.
When asked by CNN if Democrats would be willing to go at it alone in raising the debt ceiling, Schumer said, "We believe we have to renew the debt ceiling and we are going to move forward and get it done. And we believe it will ultimately be done in a bipartisan way."
"I'd like every single Republican senator to answer the question are they willing to let the government default," Schumer said, adding every Senate Democrat agrees with raising the debt ceiling to avoid a government shut down or default.
"We believe it's an imperative to do it and Leader McConnell is playing dangerous political games by not stepping up to the plate as he asked us to do and we did when Trump was president," he added.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that "Republicans are united in opposition to raising the debt ceiling," while acknowledging that it needs to be done. But he said that Democrats should be responsible after proposing trillions of dollars in new spending.
"I've never seen such an effort to expand the reach of the federal government like we've been confronted with this year," McConnell said. "So if they want to do all of this on a partisan basis, they have the ability, and the responsibility, to ensure that the federal government not default. And they will have to take care of that."
As work continues on the Democrats' $3.5 trillion dollar economic package, Schumer said Senate Democrats watched a 35-40 minute PowerPoint presentation at their lunch on Tuesday which mapped out everything that has been agreed to between House and Senate Democrats as they work to draft language for their massive economic proposal which would greatly expand the country's social safety net.
"We will have to come together and we will come together," Schumer said of Democrats. "That's what we've done in the past. We've come together on every major issue because every member of our caucus, with no exceptions, realizes our unity is our strength. Each will have say. Because we're 50 votes, each member does have say. But we will come to agreement, and my goal, which I believe I will achieve, we will achieve as a country, is to have a strong, robust plan that includes every part of what (President Joe Biden) has asked for."
But several Democratic senators leaving the lunch acknowledged there are large differences over the scope and scale of the bill that will need to be resolved before all 50 Democrats would vote for it.
Sen. Joe Manchin, the influential West Virginia Democrat who has warned the topline of the bill and its ambitious climate change proposals must be dramatically scaled back to win his support, addressed his colleagues at the lunch, according to Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
"He started by acknowledging that there are different points of view, and that we're all trying to find a place that is good for our country," said the Massachusetts Democrat.
Sen. Ed Markey, another Democrat from Massachusetts who is pushing for strong climate change provisions in the bill, said after Manchin spoke, he realizes Democrats will have to compromise with him to get a deal.
"I think we all agreed we're going to have to work with him on the climate issues," Markey said. "He didn't close the door, so I take that as an invitation to continue to talk to him."
Two other key senators, Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden of Oregon and Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders of Vermont, said they are still working through lengthy negotiations between the Senate, House and White House over proposals to cut prescription drug costs as a way to help pay for the reconciliation bill.
"There are differences of opinion," Wyden said.