Schumer claims McConnell is standing in the way of debt deal

The Senate’s No. 3 Democrat on Tuesday said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is standing in the way of a deal to raise the debt ceiling.

“His ‘my way or the highway’ approach is what is standing in the way of getting an agreement,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). “The person standing in the way right now is Senator McConnell.”

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Schumer reacted to McConnell's meeting with President Obama on Monday in which McConnell warned he would not accept tax hikes as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling, in part because a package that included them would be “politically impossible” in Congress.

“Just yesterday my Republican colleague drew a line in the sand on cutting wasteful spending in the tax code, calling elimination of special interest giveaways 'politically impossible,' ” said Schumer. “Politically impossible, really?”

“You haven't heard such strident language from the other leaders,” continued Schumer. “When he says take everything we want and nothing you want, we will not get an agreement. That is what he is saying.”

Schumer concluded by urging McConnell to abandon his hard-line approach.

“Meet us part of the way here,” said Schumer. “Don't say 'my way or no way.' Because that is too risky.”

Obama and congressional leaders are trying to craft a deal to raise the debt ceiling before Aug. 2, when the Treasury Department says the U.S. will be at risk of defaulting on its debts. Obama met with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) last week to discuss a debt deal and followed up on Monday by meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and McConnell.

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Tax increases have emerged as the central obstacle to reaching an agreement. Boehner and McConnell insist tax hikes will not be part of any deal, but Democrats want to eliminate some tax provisions for corporations and the very wealthy.

McConnell asked Obama on Monday for proposals to cut the deficit that would not raise taxes, and told the president that Republicans will insist on steep budget cuts, caps on future spending and entitlement reform.

“At some point, the president needs to realize that the reason our debt has skyrocketed 35 percent over the past two years and that our annual deficit is now three times greater than the highest deficit the previous administration ever ran is that spending has spiraled completely out of control,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Monday afternoon.  


—Alexander Bolton contributed.