Senate Republicans block “clean” bill to raise the debt ceiling

Senate Republicans on Saturday voted to block a “clean” debt limit extension bill that would avert an unprecedented default by the U.S. government, which will run out of cash to pay all its bills on Oct. 17th.

S. 1569 “Default Prevention Act of 2013″ failed by a vote of 53 to 45, just shy of the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster. The bill would have increased the debt limit for a year to “ensure the complete and timely payment of the obligations of the United States government until December 31, 2014.”

“Troubling to me that not a single Republican would step up and allow us to start the debate on whether or not we avoid the debt ceiling default in just four days,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois). “Not a single Republican would step forward…In fact, some had said, ‘We’re looking forward to this vote to vote no.’ I don’t understand their logic but that’s what they said.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) emphasized that not only will millions of American jobs be jeopardized unless the debt ceiling is raised before the Oct. 17th deadline, he pointed out that Social Security checks, Medicare reimbursements, and military service members’ pay may be significantly delayed if the Treasury does not have enough cash to cover all these obligations.

“It’s hard for me to comprehend but every Republican voted against this,” said Reid. “I can’t imagine why they did.”

Not only will jobs be threatened, Senate Democrats stressed that a government default will push up interest rates, raising the borrowing costs and limit access to credit for “every individual, every family, every business in our nation”. At the same time, Americans will see their savings and wealth drop significantly as the stock market goes down.

“This is playing with fire,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York). “I worry on Monday that when the American markets open – maybe because of this vote – that they will start worrying and not only will the stock market go down but interest rates go up and the value of U.S. Treasuries decline. It’s very serious.”

Schumer explained that S. 1569 did not contain any amendments because it is Congress’s basic job to keep the open government and to pay the bills it already authorized.

“We made clear that we don’t regard it as a concession to open up the government. We don’t regard it as a concession to say we want to pay out bills. That is our job, and we should all be doing our job,” said Schumer. “And figuring out a way to stick to those principles and come up with a bipartisan agreement is our job over the next few days.”

Although Schumer expressed frustration at the Republicans’ obstructionism, he said he was encouraged by the weekend talks between Reid and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“Clearly, the talks are in their very early stages, but I believe Sen. McConnell showed good will. I believe he wants to come to a solution. I believe he knows how serious it is to default,” said Schumer.

 

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