Top House Republican signals GOP lawmakers won't support lifting the debt ceiling and instead force Democrats to renew US's ability to pay the bills

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Top House Republican signals GOP lawmakers won't support lifting the debt ceiling and instead force Democrats to renew US's ability to pay the bills
Republican Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas on Capitol Hill. Andrew Harnik/AP Photo
  • Rep. Kevin Brady said Democrats shouldn't rely on House GOP support to lift the debt ceiling.
  • "Unless they have a conversation with Republicans...there won't be Republican support in the House."
  • House GOP may follow the Senate GOP's lead under McConnell in opposing a debt ceiling increase.

A top House Republican indicated that GOP lawmakers are unlikely to support lifting the debt ceiling and instead put the onus on Democrats to do so, raising the risk of a perilous showdown that could engulf both chambers of Congress this fall.

Rep. Kevin Brady, ranking Republican on House Ways and Means, said in a Monday interview that Republicans were growing frustrated with Democrats circumventing them on a $1.9 trillion stimulus law using a legislative tactic known as reconciliation. They're also poised to muscle through a multitrillion social spending plan on their own.

"Considering they haven't had a single conversation about spending, stimulus or the debt with us to date, I think they, by their behavior, have taken responsibility on passing this by themselves," Brady told Insider in a Monday night interview.

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The Texas Republican went on: "Unless they have a conversation with Republicans, certainly there won't be Republican support in the House. Take it or leave it, no conversations, no working together - it's their responsibility, unfortunately."

Brady's comments serve as a barometer of the GOP position in the lower chamber on the debt ceiling, given his influence as an architect of the 2017 Republican tax law. House Republicans may end up taking the lead of the Senate GOP under Mitch McConnell, as most Republicans in the upper chamber are banding together to oppose a debt ceiling increase.

Some Senate Republicans are demanding spending cuts in exchange for their support, even as GOP supported raising the debt ceiling multiple times under the Trump administration.

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The previous debt limit suspension expired on July 30, prompting the Treasury Department to take "extraordinary measures" to help pay off the government's bills. Increasing the debt ceiling does not add to federal spending - it only authorizes the US government to pay its current debt load.

The Congressional Budget Office forecasts Treasury can keep the government afloat until October or November, though Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the pandemic is making it more difficult to accurately project when Treasury will exhaust its emergency powers.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy's office didn't respond to a request for comment. In July, McCarthy signed onto a letter from Republicans on the House budget panel calling for "spending restraints."

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Reconciliation allows certain bills to be fast-tracked and passed with a simple majority vote. Republicans used the same procedure to enact a major corporate tax cut under President Donald Trump. The GOP also embarked on a failed effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act that same year without Democratic support.

Other senior Republicans wouldn't go as far as Brady. Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri, the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, only said Democratic congressional leaders hadn't responded to the letter they sent.

"We've heard crickets," Smith told Insider on Tuesday. "The Democrats have failed in leadership, they're not even negotiating or communicating, so apparently they don't care about the debt ceiling."

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