White House cool to McConnell debt ceiling offer: ‘We don’t need to kick the can’
The White House on Wednesday gave a chilly reception to an offer from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to raise the debt limit for two months to avoid a potential economic crisis.
Press secretary Jen Psaki briefed reporters at the same time some Democratic senators signaled they would accept McConnell’s offer. But Psaki argued a more immediate, long-term solution to raise the debt ceiling would be preferable to what few details were available about the compromise.
“We could get this done today. We don’t need to kick the can. We don’t need to go through a cumbersome process that every day brings additional risks,” Psaki said.
“The preference would be just getting this done today so we can move on to more business for the American people, and that option is still on the table,” Psaki continued. “If we’re looking at the best options, why kick the can down the road a couple more weeks? Why create an additional layer of uncertainty? Why not just get it done now? That’s what we’re continuing to press for, and that’s our first choice.”
McConnell in a statement on Wednesday offered to vote to raise the debt limit to a certain number high enough to cover the nation’s financial obligations until December, at which point the ceiling would again have to be raised.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) said accepting the offer would amount to “a temporary victory.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said McConnell had “caved” and that Democrats would shift their focus to passing their agenda.
Republicans had previously been united in opposition to voting to raise the debt ceiling, arguing Democrats should do it unilaterally through reconciliation. But Democrats had largely ruled out that route, setting up a standoff in the Senate.
Lawmakers have until Oct. 18 to raise the debt ceiling or risk a historic default. President Biden met earlier Wednesday with business leaders to discuss the potential consequences on the economy should the nation default.
“The Senate Republicans’ position, I find not only to be hypocritical, but dangerous and a bit disgraceful, especially as we’re crawling our way out of a pandemic that cost us 700,000 lives,” Biden said.