By Alexander Bolton - 10/09/13 11:35 PM EDT
Senate Republicans plan to block Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidAbortion ruling roils race for the White House, Senate Dem senator urges support for House Puerto Rico bill Reid: McConnell silence on Trump 'speaks volumes' MORE’s (D-Nev.) bid to push the debt limit until Dec. 31, 2014, increasing the nation’s borrowing authority by an estimated $1.1 trillion.
Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiGOP senator praises Supreme Court's abortion ruling Kerry visits Arctic Circle to see climate impacts Senate panel clears EPA spending bill, blocking rules MORE (Alaska), a pivotal centrist Republican, on Wednesday called Reid’s legislation “politically transparent.”
The Senate Republican caucus now seems near unanimous that Reid is playing political games. And that likely blocks Reid’s plan to pass a clean 14-month debt-limit increase to put pressure on House Republicans to act.
Reid followed a similar game plan the last time Congress faced a major fiscal impasse. The Senate pressured the House to accept tax increases on the wealthy by passing a bipartisan bill on the New Year’s Day deadline.
Reid argues it is the Republicans who are playing games by holding the nation’s credit rating hostage in order to appease Tea Party activists and super wealthy conservative donors.
“Republicans and Democrats may have our differences, but neither side should hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage while we resolve them,” he said.
Some Republicans expressed willingness to vote for a clean bill to raise the debt limit, but they have since backed away from anything that would extend borrowing authority for more than a few weeks without spending reforms in return.
“Nobody’s going to buy that on our side,” said Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamDefense contingency misuse threatens national security Gun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote MORE (R-S.C.).
“It’s irresponsible to do nothing about the debt, and it’s irresponsible to be stirring up anxiety about default,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellOvernight Finance: McConnell tees up Puerto Rico vote | Britain's credit rating slashed | Clinton vows to appoint trade prosecutor Senate Dem blocks intelligence authorization over FBI surveillance Overnight Healthcare: Biggest abortion rights win in 25 years | Justice Kennedy again steps to the left MORE (Ky.).
“But that doesn’t mean the American people are wrong to ask that a debt-limit increase include reforms aimed at actually tackling the problems that got us here in the first place,” he added.
Sen. Roger WickerRoger WickerRubio will run for reelection Lawmakers push first responder network on rural service Senate GOP deeply concerned over Trump effect MORE (R-Miss.), emerging from a meeting with colleagues, said “virtually all of us” would vote to sustain a filibuster.
Instead, several Republican senators have floated proposals they hope could lay the groundwork for a bipartisan deal to reopen the government and avoid a default.
Sen. John McCainJohn McCainOvernight Defense: Pentagon hails Fallujah's recapture | Texts to VA suicide hotline went unanswered Defense contingency misuse threatens national security Former Bush national security official backing Clinton over Trump MORE (R-Ariz.) has been at the center of these efforts.
He has worked closely with Sen. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsReid: McConnell silence on Trump 'speaks volumes' The Hill's 12:30 Report GOP senator praises Supreme Court's abortion ruling MORE (R-Maine) on a plan to reopen the government, repeal the medical device tax — while offsetting the cost of doing so — and give federal agencies flexibility to manage the automatic cuts known as sequestration.
“I think John wants a solution, too,” said Graham, one of McCain’s closest allies. “We’re all talking to each other and our Democratic colleagues. We’re trying to find a way forward for the country. What Susan’s done is very constructive.”
Collins’s plan has yet to gain traction with Democrats, however.
Sen. Angus KingAngus KingSenators roll out bipartisan gun proposal Dem Senate campaign chair endorses Clinton Obama nominates CIA watchdog to fill long vacancy MORE, an independent from Maine who caucuses with Democrats, said he does not want to set a precedent of granting concessions in exchange for keeping the government open and out of default.
“I think it’s a creative proposal, but what I’m struggling with is whether we ought to be negotiating in this circumstance,” he said.
Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinSupreme Court limps to finish Senate Dems link court fight to Congressional Baseball Game Dems: Immigration decision will 'energize' Hispanic voters MORE (Ill.) said he has had multiple conversations with McCain but nothing has come to fruition yet.
Sen. Rob PortmanRob PortmanJuan Williams: GOP sounds the sirens over Trump Gun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA McConnell quashes Senate effort on guns MORE (R-Ohio) has proposed pairing a debt-ceiling increase with both tax reform and $600 billion in savings from entitlement program changes that President Obama endorsed in his budget. Portman’s plan would fund the government through the end of fiscal 2014 at the level set in the Budget Control Act.
A Senate GOP aide said Portman is talking with red-state Democrats who want spending reforms.
Sen. Bob CorkerBob CorkerGOP senator: Something 'very, very good' can come from Brexit vote GOP senators: Brexit vote a wake-up call Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote MORE (R-Tenn.) has spoken with colleagues about linking a budget deal to reforms to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that would save $1 trillion over the next decade.
Corker, an emerging Senate deal-maker, said Tuesday he would not support a clean increase in the debt ceiling.
Senators said the Republican leadership is whipping rank-and-file members to vote against Reid’s debt-limit bill.
When asked about colleagues’ predictions that the Democratic proposal would fall short of the 60-vote threshold needed to advance, Senate GOP Whip John CornynJohn CornynMcConnell tees up House Puerto Rico bill Dem senator urges support for House Puerto Rico bill GOP senator praises Supreme Court's abortion ruling MORE (R-Texas) said, “I sure hope that’s right.”
Reid might not be able to keep his caucus unified behind a clean long-term debt-ceiling increase.
Centrist Democratic Sens. Joe DonnellyJoe DonnellyPost Orlando, hawks make a power play Overnight Cybersecurity: Senate narrowly rejects expanding FBI surveillance powers Senate narrowly rejects new FBI surveillance MORE (Ind.) and Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampGun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA McConnell quashes Senate effort on guns Senators roll out bipartisan gun proposal MORE (N.D.) declined to state their positions on the legislation Wednesday.
Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinGun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA 14 dead in West Virginia flooding Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote MORE (D-W.Va.), another centrist, told reporters Tuesday that it would make sense to discuss deficit reduction in connection with increased borrowing authority.
Sen. Mark KirkMark KirkOvernight Healthcare: Biggest abortion rights win in 25 years | Justice Kennedy again steps to the left The Trail 2016: Warren takes VP batting practice Abortion ruling roils race for the White House, Senate MORE (R-Ill.), who said Monday he could vote for a clean debt-ceiling increase, qualified his answer the following day.
A GOP aide said Kirk would support a short-term increase but not Reid’s bill to push the debt ceiling beyond the 2014 midterm election.
Sen. Jeff Chiesa, a centrist Republican from New Jersey, said he was leery of passing a yearlong debt-limit increase without spending cuts.
“I’m concerned that we’re going to raise it without taking some long-term measures on the spending side,” he said.
Durbin said Reid would move ahead with a vote to end debate and advance the 14-month debt-limit increase, even if he is not certain of having enough votes.