facebook linkedin twitter

Accord Reached on Raising the Nation’s Debt Limit

October 7, 2021 by Dan McCue
Accord Reached on Raising the Nation’s Debt Limit
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is surrounded by journalists as he walks to the Senate Chamber for a vote as Democrats look for a way to lift the debt limit without Republican votes, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats have taken Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., up on an offer that will temporarily end a political standoff over raising the nation’s debt ceiling by allowing an emergency extension into early December.

“We have reached an agreement,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., announced Thursday morning, though he offered no specifics.

Senators could vote on the deal as soon as Thursday.

McConnell also acknowledged the agreement in remarks on the Senate floor Thursday, saying the body would be “moving toward the plan I laid out last night to spare the American people from an unprecedented crisis.”

As reported Wednesday in The Well News, McConnell made the offer shortly before Republicans were prepared to block a vote on a House proposal to suspend the debt limit until December of next year.

McConnell first announced his inclination at a Republican conference lunch Wednesday afternoon.

As the lunch broke up, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, told reporters who were staking out the lunch that the proposal, which she refrained from revealing, would “give us a way out of the woods.”

Later, McConnell put out a written statement in which he said his members had “already made it clear” they would assist in “expediting the 304 reconciliation process for stand-alone debt limit legislation.”

In other words, the Republican leader was saying he was ready to let the Democrats raise the debt limit through budget reconciliation, the procedural maneuver which allows for budget-related items to pass with a simple majority. 

The Democrats used a budget reconciliation bill for the current fiscal year to lay the groundwork for passing the American Rescue Plan. 

At the time, it was believed that budget reconciliation could be used only once per fiscal year, but Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled that Section 304 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 can allow for multiple reconciliation bills per fiscal year.

That opened the door to the proposed $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package that is now being revised in Congress.

McConnell now appears to be saying Republicans will agree not to filibuster raising the debt ceiling to a fixed amount for a limited time.

“To protect the American people from a near-term Democrat-created crisis, we will also allow Democrats to use normal procedures to pass an emergency debt limit extension at a fixed dollar amount to cover current spending levels into December,” McConnell said. 

“This will moot Democrats’ excuses about the time crunch they created and give the unified Democratic government more than enough time to pass standalone debt limit legislation through reconciliation,” he said.

In the alternative, McConnell said, if the Democrats abandoned the pending budget reconciliation package — something he dismissed as an “historically reckless taxing and spending spree” — he said “a more traditional bipartisan government conversation could be possible.”

Secretary Janet Yellen said earlier this week that the nation will default on its debts on Oct. 18 — an historical first — if the debt ceiling isn’t raised. If that happens, she’s said, a recession rivaling the one that gripped the nation in 2008 will surely follow.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent who caucuses with the Democrats, said he was glad McConnell “finally saw the light” when it came to the danger of having the nation default.

The Republicans “have finally done the right thing and at least we now have another couple months in order to get a permanent solution,” he told the Associated Press.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki was a bit more cautious during her afternoon press briefing Wednesday, which occurred just as word of McConnell’s offer, made via a press release, was spreading on Capitol Hill.

“A press release is not a formal offer,” she said.

“And regardless, even the scant details that have been reported present more complicated, more difficult options than the one that is quite obvious,” Psaki continued. “In the president’s view, we could get this done today. We don’t need to kick the can. We don’t need to go through a cumbersome process that every day brings additional risks.”

To Psaki’s point, the deal proposed by McConnell means the debt ceiling issue would have to be revisited right after Thanksgiving and certainly resolved well before Christmas.

And it is already clear that at least one prominent Republican is not on board.

In a series of Tweets Thursday morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, said “If Democrats want an expedited process to use reconciliation to raise the debt limit they can have it.  However, if Republicans intend to give Democrats a pass on using reconciliation to raise the debt limit – now or in the future – that would be capitulation.”

He added, “If Democrats are willing to change the rules of the Senate to avoid raising the debt ceiling through reconciliation they really don’t care and it is time for Republicans to push back.”

A+
a-

In The News

Health

Voting

Political News

January 27, 2022
by Dan McCue
Garland Updates Bipartisan Group of Election Officials on Threat Status

WASHINGTON — U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland held a virtual discussion with a bipartisan group of election officials on Wednesday,... Read More

WASHINGTON — U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland held a virtual discussion with a bipartisan group of election officials on Wednesday, providing them with an update on the threats that have been investigated and addressed in the past several weeks. Among the updates, the Justice Department’s Election... Read More

January 27, 2022
by Dan McCue
South Carolina Urges 4th Circuit to Lift Injunction on 'Fetal Heartbeat' Abortion Law

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, on Thursday heard the first day of oral arguments in a... Read More

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, on Thursday heard the first day of oral arguments in a lawsuit challenging South Carolina’s “fetal heartbeat” abortion law. The proceedings came as the nation awaits a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on a case out... Read More

January 27, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Breyer’s Supreme Court Departure Gets Mixed Reaction on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON — Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Stephen G. Breyer officially announced his retirement from the court Thursday. After... Read More

WASHINGTON — Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Stephen G. Breyer officially announced his retirement from the court Thursday. After his colleagues told media outlets on Wednesday the announcement was coming, Democrats generally praised Breyer for his liberal stances protecting abortion, voting rights, the Affordable Care... Read More

January 27, 2022
by Reece Nations
Texas Gov. Abbott Aims to Create Parental Bill of Rights 

LEWISVILLE, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently revealed a proposal to amend the state constitution to grant parents greater... Read More

LEWISVILLE, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently revealed a proposal to amend the state constitution to grant parents greater control over their children's education and censure public educators for teaching material considered offensive. During a campaign event last week at a charter school in Lewisville,... Read More

January 27, 2022
by Dan McCue
Biden Celebrates Breyer, Affirms Vow to Name Black Woman to Supreme Court

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Thursday affirmed his campaign pledge to nominate the first Black woman to the U.S.... Read More

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Thursday affirmed his campaign pledge to nominate the first Black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court, saying that while he does not yet know who his eventual nominee will be, such a choice was “long overdue." He also took time... Read More

January 27, 2022
by Dan McCue
House Chiefs of Staff Association Elects New Leadership

WASHINGTON – The bipartisan association that represents chiefs of staff and staff directors to members of the U.S. House of... Read More

WASHINGTON – The bipartisan association that represents chiefs of staff and staff directors to members of the U.S. House of Representatives has elected a new leadership team for the 117th Congress. For the first time, a pair of bipartisan co-chairs will lead the association, replacing an... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top