McConnell’s 32 career votes to raise the debt limit increased it by $20.7 trillion

An itemized list.

Despite leading three efforts to increase the debt limit under the Trump administration and voting 32 times to increase the debt limit by over $20 trillion himself over the course of his career, Senator Mitch McConnell (R, KY) is threatening to oppose and filibuster an effort to address the looming debt limit deadline that will come due in October. Debt limit increases are must-pass provisions that ensure that the federal government can pay what it owes on obligations that it has already incurred. Failing to do so would result in an unprecedented default by the United States destroying the country’s full faith and credit, creating chaos in financial markets and the real economy, and costing taxpayers even more by squandering the U.S.’s ability to issue debt at low, riskless rates.

McConnell recognized the danger of a potential default during the last debate around a debt limit increase as Senate Majority Leader during the Trump administration:

  • “[The debt limit suspension] ensures our federal government will not approach any kind of short-term debt crisis in the coming weeks or months. It secures our nation’s full faith and credit and ensures that Congress will not throw this kind of unnecessary wrench into the gears of our job growth and thriving economy.” [Senate Floor Remarks, August 1, 2019]

He knew then the Senate had a responsibility to do its job, and urged all Senators to vote for the August 2019 debt limit increase. Only four Democratic Senators voted against the increase, while 24 Republican Senators joined them.

  • “I certainly don’t think Senators are rooting for a debt limit crisis… that means every one of our colleagues should vote for it… it’s our turn to do the job.” [Senate Floor Remarks, July 31, 2019]

McConnell also committed to work with then-President Obama in 2015 to avoid debt limit showdowns like the crisis from 2011 in the future:

  • “I made it very clear after the November election that we’re certainly not going to shut down the government or default on the national debt. We’ll figure some way to handle that.” [Face the Nation, 3/9/2015]

Now, McConnell claims an increase would be irresponsible as President Biden continues to invest in the ongoing recovery from a global pandemic that has killed nearly 700,000 Americans and sickened millions more. But as the Center for American Progress recently pointed out, 97 percent of the country’s debt subject to the limit was incurred under previous administrations, and 27 percent of that total was incurred under the last administration alone, in part because of the unpaid-for tax cuts that benefited the wealthy that McConnell and his allies secured.

In order to avoid default and what Moody’s chief economist, Mark Zandi called “financial armageddon,” the debt limit must be increased–just as both parties have done almost 80 times since 1960.

McConnell’s debt limit hypocrisy:

  • In total, McConnell has supported $20.7 trillion worth of debt limit increases during his 36 year career.
  • Voted for final passage in 32 of the 41 debt limit increases, suspensions, and exemptions since 1985, when he first entered the Senate.
  • Twenty-four of those votes occurred during a Republican administration and eight during a Democratic administration.
  • Voted in favor of every debt limit increase (there were 11) under the last two Republican presidents.

McConnell’s career debt limit vote record

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