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As 'Historic Financial Crisis' Looms, Dems Tie Gov't Shutdown to New Debt Limit - GOP Says 'No'

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), left, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). (AP Photos/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Democratic congressional leaders and the White House say they will push ahead with a vote to fund the government and suspend the government's debt limit. Republicans say they will vote against it despite the risk of a fiscal crisis. They warn the Democrats' massive spending plans will put the economy into a tailspin, piling on even more debt. 

America's national debt currently stands at $28.7 trillion. To be a little more precise, the U.S. government is roughly $28,786,500,000,000 in debt, and the interest owed on that debt is growing every second.

Meanwhile, the federal government faces a shutdown if funding stops at the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30. At the same time, the U.S. risks defaulting on its accumulated debt load if the borrowing limits are not waived or raised.

The Treasury Department warned that it will soon run out of cash-on-hand, and have to rely on incoming receipts to meet its obligations. That could force the Treasury to delay or miss payments which could cause a serious problem.

"Doing so would likely precipitate a historic financial crisis," wrote Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in the Wall Street Journal.

The president is backing Democrat congressional leaders' plan to hold the votes.

"This is a bipartisan responsibility, just as it was under my predecessor," Biden said in a tweet. "Blocking it would be inexcusable."

In response, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he's not about to increase the U.S. debt ceiling when Biden is about to pile on more with a "reckless" tax and spending package.

"Since Democrats decided to go it alone, they will not get Senate Republicans' help with raising the debt limit. I've explained this clearly and consistently for over two months," McConnell said Monday on the Senate floor.

Democrats Disagree

Meanwhile, Democrats continue to disagree among themselves as the majority party in Congress tries to pass key spending bills in just the next few weeks.

The largest of the bills is President Biden's social spending bill, which would be the biggest expansion of government social support since FDR's New Deal in the 1930s, and comes with a price tag of $3.5 trillion. Then there's the less controversial $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to consider as well.

The disagreement between progressive and moderate Democrats about the spending bills continues to be on full public display via social media. 

"Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez just told me she is a No on $1.2T infrastructure package on Sept. 27 if the House and Senate have not approved the larger, Democratic-only economic package by then," tweeted CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju on Monday. "She called moderates demanding vote by Sept. 27 a 'small destructive group of members'."

But moderate Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) said they won't support the $3.5 trillion for new social spending.

However, self-proclaimed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who played a major role in designing the bill, said $3.5 trillion is the minimum he'll accept.

"I have already made, and my colleagues have made, a major compromise, going from $6 trillion, down to $3.5 trillion," he declared.

But Axios reports Manchin wants to put off a vote on the bill until next year.

The West Virginia senator said Congress should take a "strategic pause" on Biden's $3.5 trillion spending bill. He has indicated his concerns about several items in the package and believes it should be capped at $1.5 trillion. 

Manchin appears to have made up his mind. Last week, Biden failed to convince him to accept his much higher number during a meeting at the White House, according to Axios

The Clock Ticks Down

Pelosi has promised a Sept. 27 vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill of public works projects that enjoys widespread support from both parties in the Senate, though House Republicans mostly oppose it.

Even though that bipartisan bill should be an easy legislative lift, it too faces a political obstacle course. Dozens of lawmakers in the Congressional Progressive Caucus are expected to vote against it if it comes ahead of the broader Biden package. But centrists won't vote for the broader package unless they are assured the bipartisan bill will also be included.

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