Thune: Debt ceiling action 'unlikely' before September

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

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSchumer requesting .5 billion in emergency funding on coronavirus Republicans give Barr vote of confidence Trump creates new headaches for GOP with top intelligence pick 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 McConnellOvernight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Push for national popular vote movement gets boost from conservatives To avoid November catastrophe, Democrats have to KO Sanders 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 SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Democratic mega-donor reaching out to Pelosi, Schumer in bid to stop Sanders: report Trump administration freezes funding for study of hurricane barriers: report 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 CruzSteyer calls for Senate term limits to pass gun control legislation Cruz targets California governor over housing 'prescriptions' This week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime 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. 

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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 HatchTrump administration backs Oracle in Supreme Court battle against Google Timeline: Trump and Romney's rocky relationship Key Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock 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