Senate waiting for House on debt ceiling
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell: Battle for Senate 'a 50-50 proposition' 'Packing' federal courts is already a serious problem What a Biden administration should look like MORE (R-Ky.) on Tuesday insisted the House would have to move first on raising the debt ceiling.

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"No matter how many times you ask me, we're going to wait and see what the House does on that subject," McConnell told reporters, adding that the Senate will "respond accordingly."

The Republican leader declined to say if anything except a clean increase of the debt limit could pass the Senate. Asked by reporters if Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerBottom line Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats MORE (R-Ohio) has told him when the House could start its work, McConnell referred those questions to BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerBottom line Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats MORE.

McConnell's remarks come as lawmakers face a Nov. 3 deadline to increase the debt ceiling and avoid a default.

The White House is vowing that it won't negotiate on the debt limit, putting Republicans in the tough spot of having to move a clean debt-ceiling bill.

GOP senators backed McConnell's assessment, suggesting it will be up to the lame-duck Boehner, who has announced his resignation, to bring a debt-ceiling bill to the floor.

"Money does have to originate in the House," said Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchMellman: What happened after Ginsburg? Bottom line Bottom line MORE (R-Utah). "There are ways around that, but basically I think that's a good way to start. We'll be working with them," he added. 

Asked if administration officials have said they will only accept a clean amendment, Hatch said that was "basically" their message. 

"Like the leader said, it's going to start in the House," Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneEnsuring more Americans have access to 5G technology Pence won't preside over Barrett's final confirmation vote Gaffes put spotlight on Meadows at tough time for Trump MORE (R-S.D.) told reporters. "So the House is going to send us something presumably that will have some fiscal reforms in it or perhaps some other things that we would like to see in the context of the debt-ceiling debate, but, you know, where it ends up remains to be seen."

Thune, who chairs the Republican Conference, added that while it's "pretty clear" that the administration wants a clean bill and Senate Republicans are "in a different place," lawmakers have to find a way to avoid a default.

Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidMcConnell and Schumer's relationship shredded after court brawl The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Justice Barrett joins court; one week until Election Day GOP Senate confirms Trump Supreme Court pick to succeed Ginsburg MORE (D-Nev.) said his understanding was that the House would act. 

"It's my understanding that the House is going to try to bring up a debt-ceiling bill, not the pay China first bill … and we hope that they will do it this week," he told reporters. "That will allow us to do this before the deadline." 

He slammed Republicans earlier on Tuesday, saying they were creating a "manufactured crisis" on the debt ceiling.

This story was updated at 4:36 p.m.