Oct. 6 (UPI) — President Joe Biden on Tuesday said it was a “real possibility” that Senate Democrats could alter the chamber’s filibuster rules to pass a bill to raise the debt ceiling.
Speaking to reporters late Tuesday night, Biden said he could envision the Senate loosening rules specifically to address the debt ceiling as Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the United States was “dangerously close” to hitting the limit, while criticizing Republicans for holding up the process ahead of a procedural vote on Wednesday.
“There’s not many options if they’re going to be that irresponsible,” Biden said. “There’s not much time left to do it by reconciliation.”
Altering filibuster rules would require full support from Senate Democrats but Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have opposed the change.
Schumer said Congress must pass legislation to raise the debt ceiling by the end of the week and called for support from Republican senators, who have refused to raise the limit.
“They have a chance to show that they are still responsible,” Schumer said, according to NBC News. “It’s not too late, but it’s getting dangerously close.”
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told CNBC that it is “utterly essential” that Congress raise or suspend the debt limit to avoid defaulting on the nation’s debt and possibly triggering a recession.
“It’s really up to Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and leader Schumer to figure out how to get this done in Congress,” Yellen said. “What I can tell you is that it’s utterly essential that this be done.”
She said Oct. 18 is the deadline for action, and noted that the debt ceiling has been raised some 80 times since 1960, almost always on a bipartisan basis.
“It would be catastrophic to not pay the government’s bills, for us to be in a position where we lack the resources to pay the government’s bills,” Yellen said.
“It really undermines confidence in the full faith and credit of the United States, our willingness to stand behind our debts and make sure that we pay them.”
She said failing to raise or suspend the debt ceiling could affect Social Security payments for 50 million seniors, child tax credit payments for 30 million households and more.
“U.S. Treasury securities have long been viewed as the safest asset on the planet,” Yellen said. “That partly accounts for the reserve status of the dollar, and placing that in question by failing to pay any of our bills that come due, would really be a catastrophic outcome.”
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said Democrats should handle the issue without Republican support.
Biden blamed Republicans for the impasse during a news conference Monday and noted that Republicans raised the debt ceiling three times during former President Donald Trump’s term in office.