Debt ceiling: Mitch McConnell decides to strike a deal but faces resistance from the GOP

To accomplish his plan, Republicans will first have to cooperate under Senate rules. And it’s unclear whether the 10 GOP Senators needed will do just that.

McConnell, who has in the past developed creative ways to avoid default without Republicans having the right to vote, has been working quietly for weeks with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer ahead of the Dec. 15 deadline set. by the Treasury Department. His positioning amounts to a radical departure from the latest debt ceiling standoff earlier this fall, when it first refused to provide GOP votes before reaching a deal to raise the debt ceiling. for two months – and later told President Joe Biden that there would be no GOP cooperation again.
Now before another deadline to avert the country’s very first default and the calamitous effects that would accompany it, McConnell is eager to avoid a budget crisis that could be blamed on his party – especially as the GOP’s fortunes are at stake. rising in midterm elections next year.

“The country will never default,” McConnell said confidently at a Wall Street Journal event Monday night. “We frequently have tragedies associated with this decision. But I can assure you the country will never default.”

So he and Schumer are floating in private creating a new process that would raise the debt ceiling by just 51 votes in the Senate – with only Democratic votes – and only in this specific case. But to create this new Senate process, a law must first be enacted, which means it would take 60 votes to break a likely GOP obstruction to push forward the legislation creating the process.

To aid its chances of adoption, Democrats and McConnell discussed linking this new Senate process to the National Defense Authorization Act, a must-see bill that defines the country’s defense policy. Once the NDAA is enacted, Congress could then raise the debt ceiling as part of this new process – and do so solely on Democrats’ votes.

Democrats are considering three different options in the House: one would be to include a debt ceiling measure in the underlying defense bill; another would be to pass the Senate Process Bill separately from the Defense Bill; and a third would be for the House to approve a rule that would allow the new process to be added to the Defense Bill once it has been passed by the House and before Senate consideration.

Each of these options would require 60 votes in the Senate to move forward before the new fast-track process can become law.

But Republicans were lining up to oppose linking any debt ceiling measures to the defense bill.

“I think that blurs the message,” Texas Senator John Cornyn, a member of McConnell’s management team, told CNN. “So if I vote for the NDAA, people are going to say that I voted to increase the debt limit? I’m not for that.”

To get the defense bill out of the House, GOP support will likely be needed as Democrats can only afford to lose three votes with their slim majority and a number of liberals reject the growth of Pentagon agendas. .

In a sign of the headwinds facing the plan, Minority Parliamentary Leader Kevin McCarthy actively criticized tying the two bills together, tweeting: “Funding for our troops through the NDAA should not be. no case be related to the current debt limit. or substance. “

Other conservatives rejected the proposed new process altogether, with Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah tweeting that he “would neutralize the Senate.”

McConnell is expected to address his conference on Tuesday on the matter.

But after years of fighting, McConnell and Schumer have been working on their second tax deal in recent weeks – after they struck a deal last week to keep government open until mid-February.

In remarks on the ground Monday, Schumer vowed they would “work to tackle the debt limit and preserve the full confidence and credit of the United States” and thanked McConnell “for his cooperation in this regard.” .


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