House Democrats warned Republicans Wednesday that they may not support a "clean" debt limit hike, a move that would leave Republicans scrambling to find enough support to pass it with only GOP votes.
Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., the vice chairwoman of the Democratic caucus, said Wednesday that House Democrats should "step aside" and see if Republicans can get enough support on board for a clean debt limit hike. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said the administration wants Congress to pass a clean hike in the debt limit ahead of the August recess.
According to Sanchez, Mnuchin recently met with Democratic members of the House Ways and Means Committee and emphasized the need to raise the debt ceiling.
"We looked at him sort of him in puzzlement and wonderment and said, 'you're preaching to the wrong choir, my friend. You should be carrying that message to the Republican caucus,'" Sanchez told reporters. "I think it is time to step aside for the moment and see if they can govern and whether they can govern responsibly."
"Again, they have the majority," she continued. "The responsibility is on their shoulders to keep the basics of government open and running, and it's hard to predict where Democrats are going to be until we know whether they have enough adults in the room to complete the business that needs to get done."
It would likely be impossible for Republicans to pass a clean debt ceiling hike without the help of Democrats.
The House Freedom Caucus, comprised of about three dozen hardline House conservatives, announced last month they will oppose any clean raising of the debt ceiling. The group has called for a debt ceiling increase to "be paired with policy that addresses Washington's unsustainable spending by cutting where necessary, capping where able, and working to balance in the near future."
Sanchez said Democrats feel like a political prop for Republicans when their votes are needed, including for the upcoming debt ceiling fight and battles over the budget.
"Would you feel used if somebody didn't call you until and unless they really needed something important from you?" Sanchez said. "I think Democrats always keep in mind that what is good for the country is best overall."
"It's a little hard not to feel like you're being taken from granted when you're not invited in to talk about any major policy issue they are pursuing until there's something dire and desperate that they need your help with. Our message all along is that you have to govern responsibly."