Schumer blasts back at McConnell over the debt ceiling
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill This week: Senate wrapping up defense bill after amendment fight Cuomo warns Dems against cutting DACA deal with Trump MORE (D-N.Y.) is firing back at Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate passes 0B defense bill Overnight Health Care: New GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (R-Ky.), warning that decoupling the debt ceiling from funding for the government would backfire on Republicans.

Pushing the debt-ceiling vote into 2018 "sure doesn't benefit them" or the country, the New York Democrat said, referring to Republicans. 

"If they used extraordinary measures to extend the debt ceiling, there would be two cliffs instead of one," Schumer told reporters during a conference call. 

His comments come after McConnell appeared to try to claim a win over the recent debt-ceiling fight, telling The New York Times that Democrats "spiked the ball in the end zone a little too early."

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“Since I was in charge of drafting the debt ceiling provision that we inserted into the flood bill we likely, almost certainly, are not going to have another debt ceiling discussion until well into 2018,” McConnell said. 

Democrats hoped forcing GOP leadership to deal with both the debt ceiling and funding the government at the end of the year would give them more leverage heading into the fall.  

McConnell argued the end-of-the-year discussions will be focused on spending levels and hurricane relief, not the debt ceiling.

But separating the two issues could force Republicans to take two tough votes. Delaying the debt-ceiling fight into 2018 also pushes it into the heart of the midterm election campaign. 

Senate Republicans will need the support of at least eight Democrats to pass either a government-funding bill or a debt-ceiling increase through the chamber.

And House Republican leadership could be forced to lean on Democrats to help pass either bill if they aren't able to win over enough conservatives.