McConnell on possibility of default: ‘Everybody needs to relax’

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tried to calm fears of a possible debt default Tuesday, pleading with everyone to “relax” as talks continue between the White House and House GOP negotiators ahead of the likely June 1 deadline.  

“I think everybody needs to relax,” McConnell told reporters in his home state, again reiterating that the nation will not default on its payments, a declaration he’s repeated throughout the negotiation process. “The last 10 times we raised the debt ceiling, there were things attached to it. This is not that unusual. It is almost entirely required when you have divided government.” 

“Regardless of what may be said about the talks … the president and the Speaker will reach an agreement. It will ultimately pass on a bipartisan vote in both the House and the Senate,” he continued. “The country will not default.”

McConnell has been a steadfast backer of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy throughout the debt ceiling negotiation, and has repeatedly said that President Biden must strike a deal with the Speaker this time around.

McConnell had been expected to play a role given his relationship and past dealings with the president but he has instead remained a supporting character. Given the makeup of Congress, he has maintained that any deal must be hammered out between the White House and House Republicans — as that is where the power lies these days — with the Democrat-controlled Senate playing little role in the debt ceiling discussions.

More on the debt ceiling from The Hill:

McCarthy was joined by McConnell at the White House for some talks, but those discussions have narrowed to teams spearheaded by White House Counselor Steve Ricchetti, Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young and White House director of legislative affairs Louisa Terrell on the Democratic side, and Reps. Garret Graves (R-La.) and Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) for the GOP.

Talks remain ongoing, although the GOP negotiators complained Tuesday that the White House is not showing enough urgency in discussions. 

Due to the 72-hour rule in the House and the time needed to cobble together legislative text, a deal likely must come together by late this week in order to pass it ahead of the X-date of June 1 laid out by Treasury Department Secretary Janet Yellen.

Tags debt ceiling Janet Yellen Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy Mitch McConnell Mitch McConnell Shalanda Young Steve Ricchetti

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