Thune: Debt ceiling action 'unlikely' before September

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

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTrump's magical thinking won't stop the coronavirus pandemic Lawmakers brace for more coronavirus legislation after trillion bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Senate overcomes hurdles, passes massive coronavirus bill 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 McConnellThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden spar over coronavirus response Senator Tom Coburn's government oversight legacy Schumer praises choice of Defense inspector general to oversee corporate lending fund 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 SchumerJoe Biden can't lead the charge from his home in Delaware Texas man arrested for allegedly threatening Democrats over coronavirus bill Pelosi not invited by Trump to White House coronavirus relief bill's signing 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 CruzFlorida sheriff asks for new leads in disappearance of Carole Baskin's former husband after Netflix's 'Tiger King' drops Ted Cruz jokes about quarantine boredom, 'Tiger King' Trump faces mounting pressure to unleash Defense Production Act 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 HatchBottom line Bottom line Trump administration backs Oracle in Supreme Court battle against Google 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