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

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerHillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars Dem legal analyst says media 'overplayed' hand in Mueller coverage Former FBI official praises Barr for 'professional' press conference MORE (D-N.Y.) is firing back at Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Mueller report is a deterrent to government service Senate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller Anti-smoking advocates question industry motives for backing higher purchasing age 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.