McConnell Pushing New Debt Limit Strategy


House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is pushing a new strategy to allow Democrats to easily raise the debt ceiling, Politico is reporting.

McConnell and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have been in talks for ways to permit Democrats to hike the debt limit without having to count on Republican votes. However, Politico noted several of the scenarios need Republican votes to set up the process.

Schumer had said last week that he and McConnell have had a “good conversation” about the debt limit.

“I look forward to achieving a bipartisan solution to addressing the debt limit soon.” Schumer said.

But the Republican Conference remains skeptical, according to Politico.

“We all know the debt limit has to be raised, and we know the Democrats are going to be delivering the votes to do it,” said Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D. “The question is, What’s the process? I know we’ve got to raise the debt limit. And I have no intention of voting to raise the debt limit, if we enable or allow a process that enables the Democrats to do it. Again, I’m going to wait and see what the leader has to say.”

Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., said: “They [Democrats] control the agenda in the Senate. There’s no reason for us to try and facilitate anything for them again. I can be pretty pragmatic. But this one?”

And Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., added: “I like them having to use the reconciliation process. And to the degree we could help facilitate that a little easier, I’m fine with. I’m a little less enthused about” the other fast-track options.

According to Politico, Democrat leaders in the House were putting the finishing touches on a plan to address the defense bill and debt limit together. But their aspiration to vote as early as Tuesday evening remained in doubt.

This is technically the final week the House is scheduled to be in session until mid-January. But Politico pointed out Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has warned members they could be called back over the holidays.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had told lawmakers on Nov. 16 she believes the federal government will exhaust all its maneuvering room to avoid default soon after Dec. 15, The Associated Press reported.

And the Bipartisan Policy Center said there’s a 50% chance the federal government will default on the national debt if Congress doesn’t raise or suspend the borrowing limit before lawmakers leave for Christmas recess.

Meanwhile, Schumer says he is hopeful of a deal.

“I’m optimistic that we will be able to prevent the awful prospect of the U.S. defaulting,” Schumer said. “I continue to thank all of my colleagues for cooperating in good faith.”