Thune: Debt ceiling action 'unlikely' before September

Thune: Debt ceiling action 'unlikely' before September
© Keren Carrion

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate Republicans raise concerns about TSA cyber directives for rail, aviation Democrats narrow scope of IRS proposal amid GOP attacks Senate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair MORE (R-S.D.), the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, on Wednesday said it's doubtful that the upper chamber will be taking action on the debt ceiling before September.

“I think it’s probably more of a September strategy,” Thune said, adding that action during the next two weeks was “unlikely.” 

When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP blocks Senate Democrats' revised elections bill A politicized Supreme Court? That was the point The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Democrats optimistic after Biden meetings MORE (R-Ky.) announced that the Senate would extend its session for the first two weeks of the August recess, he cited the debt ceiling as one of the main action items on the Senate’s to-do list.

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had repeatedly urged Congress to act on the debt ceiling before August, and last week pegged Sept. 29 as the last day to address the issue before the U.S. Treasury runs out of ways to pay its bills. 

But Republicans still have no plan for how to gather support for a debt-ceiling hike.

A Tuesday meeting between Mnuchin, McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerFixing Congress requires fixing how it legislates Beware the tea party of the left Bottom line MORE (D-N.Y.) produced little progress, and Democratic Senate sources said Republicans did not even have a proposal on the issue.

Conservatives in Congress want to use the must-pass debt ceiling vote to enact rules that would restrict spending. 

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised The Senate confirmation process is broken — Senate Democrats can fix it Australian politician on Cruz, vaccines: 'We don't need your lectures, thanks mate' MORE (R-Texas) said the debt ceiling was an "effective tool" for conservative lawmakers who want to reduce government spending. 

"I hope we use all the tools available to us to do that," he told reporters. 

But Democrats, whose votes will be needed in the Senate, are unlikely to support such measures, and may make demands of their own.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchLobbying world Congress, stop holding 'Dreamers' hostage Drug prices are declining amid inflation fears MORE (R-Utah) disagreed with Cruz.

“It’s a game to some people, and it shouldn’t be,” he said. “It’s going to move forward. We’ve got to pass it.”

Jordain Carney contributed