Democrats may bypass filibuster on debt limit

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) suggested Sunday that Democrats would consider raising the debt limit with only 51 votes in the Senate. 

Democrats tried to pass a $1.1 trillion increase in the debt limit Saturday, but they failed to achieve the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster.

On "Fox News Sunday," host Chris Wallace asked Manchin to explain Sen. Dick Durbin's (D-Ill.) comment that Democrats have "several somethings" they can use as a back-up plan to raise the debt ceiling and avoid default. 

"I would assume that they might be referring to the so-called 'nuclear option,'" Manchin said. "If you have to use that basically to keep this country from falling into default—do we go to 51 votes on the Senate side to prevent that from happening?" 

But Manchin said he hopes Democrats aren't forced to make that decision.

"I don't think we need to go that direction whatsoever, and I think we can come to an agreement," Manchin said.

The Democratic senator is part of a bipartisan group working with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on a bill that would raise the debt ceiling through January, reopen the government and delay the medical device tax (a provision of Obamacare) for two years. 

But that effort now appears dead, and the focus has shifted to negotiations between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The federal government will exhaust its borrowing authority and begin defaulting on its debt as soon as Thursday, according to the Treasury Department.  

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