Senate

Manchin open to debt hike through reconciliation, rules out nixing filibuster

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said on Monday that Democrats should raise the debt ceiling through reconciliation if they have to, ruling out nixing the legislative filibuster to do so.  

“They shouldn’t rule out anything. We just can’t let the debt ceiling lapse. We just can’t,” Manchin told reporters, asked about Democratic leadership ruling out using reconciliation, a budget process that lets them bypass the filibuster, to increase the nation’s borrowing limit. 

Asked if he was saying Democratic leadership should raise the debt ceiling under reconciliation, Manchin added: “Whatever they have to do, absolutely.”  

Congress has until Oct. 18 to raise the country’s borrowing limit, according to a letter from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, or risk a historic default that would have widespread economic consequences. 

Asked if he would support nixing the the filibuster to raise the debt ceiling, Manchin instead pointed to reconciliation as one way they could raise the debt ceiling without GOP help. 

“The filibuster has nothing to do with debt ceiling. Basically, we have other tools that we can use and if we have to use them we should use them,” Manchin said.  

“Forget the filibuster, OK? We can prevent default … there’s a way to do that. There’s a couple other tools that we have that we can use. Takes a little bit of time. It’s going to be a little bit of pain, long vote-a-ramas,” Manchin told reporters, referring to the marathon voting sessions that occur as part of the Senate considering a bill under the reconciliation rules. 

The White House and Senate GOP leadership are at a standoff over how to raise the debt ceiling. 

Republicans have twice blocked bills that would suspend the debt ceiling, including preventing a short-term government funding bill that would have suspended the debt ceiling through 2022 from getting the 60 votes necessary to break a filibuster.  

That’s fed calls from outside groups and some Senate Democrats to nix the 60-vote legislative filibuster or exempt the debt ceiling from the legislative filibuster. 

“The idea that you can filibuster the debt ceiling is an outrage,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Monday.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sent a letter to President Biden on Monday “respectfully” urging him to lean on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to raise the debt ceiling through reconciliation.  

“I respectfully submit that it is time for you to engage directly with congressional Democrats on this matter,” McConnell said of the debt ceiling in a letter to Biden. 

“Your lieutenants in Congress must understand that you do not want your unified Democratic government to sleepwalk toward an avoidable catastrophe when they have had nearly three months’ notice to do their job,” McConnell wrote. 

But Democratic leadership has repeatedly ruled out raising the debt ceiling through reconciliation, arguing that it’s too risky and noting that Democrats didn’t filibuster debt increases when Republicans had a unified government under former President George W. Bush.  

Schumer, in a letter to the Democratic caucus, said he wants to get a debt ceiling bill to Biden’s desk by the end of the week.  

“Let me be clear about the task ahead of us: we must get a bill to the President’s desk dealing with the debt limit by the end of the week. Period,” Schumer wrote in a letter to Senate Democrats on Monday. 

Durbin, asked about Democrats’ reluctance to use reconciliation, added, “I’m not going to say anything’s impossible.” 

“But the consistent message from the caucus is that would take additional time, a series of votes, and delay. Which is exactly what McConnell wants,” he added. 

Tags Charles Schumer Debt limit Dick Durbin Filibuster Janet Yellen Joe Biden Joe Manchin Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Reconciliation

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