McConnell: 'Ideally' debt ceiling vote is before August recess
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell focuses on confirming judicial nominees with COVID-19 talks stalled McConnell accuses Democrats of sowing division by 'downplaying progress' on election security Warren, Schumer introduce plan for next president to cancel ,000 in student debt MORE (R-Ky.) signaled on Tuesday that he wants a vote on raising the debt ceiling before lawmakers leave for the August recess. 

"Ideally we'll deal with the debt ceiling before the August recess," he told reporters. 

The timeline comes after Senate Republicans announced they would delay the start of the August recess by two weeks — moving the recess start date from July 31 to August 14. 

The move, McConnell suggested, could give lawmakers time to deal with a backlog of delayed legislation and work out an agreement to increase the debt ceiling before they leave Washington until early September. 

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has urged Congress to increase the debt ceiling before the August recess, but the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the country will not run out of borrowing options until mid-October. 

Conservatives typically want the vote tied to entitlement reform or spending cuts — a move that would likely draw pushback from Democrats. 

McConnell sidestepped Tuesday on saying if the vote needed to be tied to spending cuts.

"We'll see, but the debt ceiling must be raised," he said. 

The House Freedom Caucus outlined on Monday three possible options to raise the debt ceiling that could win their vote.

One option would require the Treasury secretary to issue GDP-linked bonds to pay the country’s debt in the event that the debt ceiling is reached, and allow the president to authorize the sale of certain government assets to raise funds for the payments.

The second option would tie the debt ceiling to a budget resolution and require $250 billion in mandatory spending cuts. The third option would tie the debt ceiling vote to an ObamaCare repeal effort in case Republicans split repeal and replace. 

Julia Lawless, a spokeswoman for Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchBottom line Bottom line Senate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  MORE (R-Utah), said the Senate Finance Committee chairman has started talking to the administration about when Congress should vote.

"Chairman Hatch is working with the administration to get more details on what the appropriate time will be for Congress to act to raise the debt ceiling and is continuing to work with his colleagues in Congress to find a viable path forward to achieve this goal," she told The Hill late last week.

Republicans are expected to need to negotiate with Democrats on how to raise the debt ceiling for the first time since a vote in 2014.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned on Tuesday that would be "very hard" for Democrats to support the move if it was tied to tax cuts for high-income earners. 

"The burden of proof is on them to come up with a proposal," he said.