The last time the issue surfaced, in August 2019, Congress and President Donald J. Trump suspended the debt limit through July 31 of this year. On Aug. 2, Treasury reset the debt limit to $28.4 trillion, and the government crashed through it days later, less than seven months into President Biden’s term.
Second, a debt ceiling increase will almost certainly need at least the acquiescence of Senate Republicans to overcome a filibuster and move to a vote. Mr. McConnell would like Democrats to add a debt ceiling increase to the social policy bill, which is being drafted under budget rules that would allow it to pass with 51 Senate votes.
But Democrats said weeks ago that they would not do that. Given the difficulty in reaching near-unanimous Democratic agreement on the measure — and a series of procedural obstacles they would have to clear — it would most likely be impossible to get it to the House and Senate floors in time to avoid a default.
Democrats say that they helped Mr. Trump and Republican leaders deal with the debt limit, and that fairness dictates bipartisanship now, especially on such a consequential matter. Hence, the shame campaign.
“If Senator McConnell and Senate Republicans choose to default to avoid paying debts they helped rack up under President Trump, it will devastate the economy and irreparably discredit our country’s financial standing, their party and themselves,” Justin Goodman, a spokesman for Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, said on Wednesday. “Senator McConnell will go down as the first person in history to force a default, and every single American will know the Senate Republicans are to blame.”
Mr. McConnell is not the Democrats’ only target; they say other Senate Republicans, such as Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, understand what is at stake. Democratic leaders are likely to attach a debt ceiling increase to an emergency spending bill that includes funding for Hurricane Ida reconstruction, wildfire management and Afghan refugee resettlement; they will then dare Republican senators from Louisiana, Idaho and Montana and other interested lawmakers to vote no later than this month.
Biden’s 2022 Budget
The 2022 fiscal year for the federal government begins on October 1, and President Biden has revealed what he’d like to spend, starting then. But any spending requires approval from both chambers of Congress. Here’s what the plan includes:
- Ambitious total spending: President Biden would like the federal government to spend $6 trillion in the 2022 fiscal year, and for total spending to rise to $8.2 trillion by 2031. That would take the United States to its highest sustained levels of federal spending since World War II, while running deficits above $1.3 trillion through the next decade.
- Infrastructure plan: The budget outlines the president’s desired first year of investment in his American Jobs Plan, which seeks to fund improvements to roads, bridges, public transit and more with a total of $2.3 trillion over eight years.
- Families plan: The budget also addresses the other major spending proposal Biden has already rolled out, his American Families Plan, aimed at bolstering the United States’ social safety net by expanding access to education, reducing the cost of child care and supporting women in the work force.
- Mandatory programs: As usual, mandatory spending on programs like Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare make up a significant portion of the proposed budget. They are growing as America’s population ages.
- Discretionary spending: Funding for the individual budgets of the agencies and programs under the executive branch would reach around $1.5 trillion in 2022, a 16 percent increase from the previous budget.
- How Biden would pay for it: The president would largely fund his agenda by raising taxes on corporations and high earners, which would begin to shrink budget deficits in the 2030s. Administration officials have said tax increases would fully offset the jobs and families plans over the course of 15 years, which the budget request backs up. In the meantime, the budget deficit would remain above $1.3 trillion each year.
Reputation aside, Mr. McConnell has lost before. In 2015, the Senate voted over his adamant opposition to curtail the federal government’s post-Sept. 11 surveillance of U.S. phone records. He vowed this year to oppose a Senate organizing resolution to give Democrats control of the chamber unless the new majority promised to protect the legislative filibuster. Then he blinked.