Sen. Bill Hagerty on Wednesday was critical of Democratic attempts to abuse the budget reconciliation process to pass massive spending bills he says will permanently reorient American society away from free-market capitalism towards socialism, while also claiming the party purposely operates “from crisis to crisis.”
In an interview with Bloomberg’s “Balance of Power” program, the Tennessee Republican was asked whether he believes Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will attempt to use reconciliation to pass President Joe Biden’s economic agenda, which includes a $3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” bill filled with progressive priorities including a path to citizenship for millions of illegal aliens.
“I have no reason to believe it’s going to be a bit different. Mitch McConnell has been clear since July where this needs to go,” Hagerty said, referencing the Senate minority leader from Kentucky. “There’s a process in place called reconciliation. They’ve misused reconciliation. They did it back in March to push through $1.9 trillion of spending that they called ‘pandemic relief’ spending, but mostly had nothing to do with the pandemic.
“They did that without a single Republican vote. They’re talking about again using that same process to spend trillions more in this so-called reshaping of America, this transformative policy that [Sen.] Bernie Sanders [I-Vt.] has authored. That’s what the process is being misused for,” Hagerty continued.
“But actually, reconciliation was designed for budgetary processes. And this is one of the things that reconciliation can and will have to be used to address,” he said.
Host David Westin went on to note that reconciliation involves an intense amount of time as there are a number of votes that must be taken during the process before asking Hagerty if Democrats had enough time to get a debt ceiling bill passed via the process ahead of an Oct. 18 deadline.
“We’ve had time since July. Chuck Schumer’s known this for a long time,” said the Tennesee conservative.
“Again they’re, I think, trying to create yet another crisis. This administration and our colleagues on the Democrat side of the aisle love to manage from crisis to crisis to crisis,” he added.
“The Biden administration, unfortunately has been creating more crises than I could have ever imagined, but they’re using this as perhaps an excuse to do away with the filibuster. I’ve heard this sort of talk. I think that would be extraordinarily detrimental to the United States Senate. But again, they’re precipitating a crisis by letting this delay. They should not be doing this,” Hagerty continued.
The debt ceiling deadline may be a moot point, however — at least for a couple of months. McConnell on Wednesday offered to support a two-month extension, which Democrats quickly agreed to.
As for the $3.5 trillion measure, Democrats have dissension within their own ranks. Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have both signaled they cannot support a bill that large, though Manchin suggested earlier this week he would be willing to come off his previous hard figure of $1.5 trillion.
In his interview, Hagerty also criticized the size and scope of that bill and Democrats’ plans to use it to ram though an additional $1.5 trillion infrastructure package.
“What my constituents don’t want is more debt on the backs of their children and grandchildren. And when they found out that this infrastructure bill wasn’t paid for as advertised, and that frankly much of it was not hard infrastructure as it had been advertised, people were quite upset,” he told Westin.
“They were happy with the fact that I held that bill up. I stopped it for five days. It made me not very popular in the United States Senate, but it was something that had to happen so the American public could actually find out what was in this 2,700-page bill,” he added.
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