Mnuchin signals he wants debt ceiling vote before August recess

Mnuchin signals he wants debt ceiling vote before August recess
© Aaron Schwartz
Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinSecurity for Trump's Mar-a-Lago visits cost local taxpayers million On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Senate approves Trump trade deal with Canada, Mexico | Senate Dems launch probe into Trump tax law regulations | Trump announces Fed nominees Senate Democrats launch investigation into Trump tax law regulations MORE said Wednesday there are ongoing discussions about Congress needing to increase the debt ceiling before leaving for the August recess. 

Mnuchin, asked if he wants a pre-August vote on raising the country's borrowing cap, said it would be his "preference to see them pass something, and again we’re in discussions about that." 
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"That is something we’re having discussions about, updating the numbers and potentially the need to do something before everybody leaves," Mnuchin said. 
 
Mnuchin's comments came after a closed-door meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Senate GOP mulls speeding up Trump impeachment trial Republicans will pay on Election Day for politicizing Trump's impeachment MORE (R-Ky.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyCalifornia sues Trump administration over fracking Trump: Impeachment timing intended to hurt Sanders Overnight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030 MORE (R-Calif.), acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyTrump trial poses toughest test yet for Roberts Collins says she's 'likely' to support calling witnesses for impeachment trial Schumer doesn't rule out calling Parnas to testify in impeachment trial MORE and Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought about a deal to lift the spending caps and increase the debt ceiling. 
 
The debt limit has essentially been put on the back burner of the larger spending talks. But lawmakers are growing increasingly concerned after a new study released this week predicted the debt ceiling would need to be raised by early September, days after Congress returns from its summer recess.
 
Leadership in both parties wants to attach an increase in the debt ceiling to a deal to raise the nondefense and defense spending caps. Linking the two together would allow lawmakers to condense two tough political votes into one. 
 
Needing to increase the debt ceiling before leaving town for the August break would give Congress a matter of weeks to figure out their strategy about how to bring up the vote, which often sparks backlash, particularly from fiscal hawks. 
 
Both House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRepublicans will pay on Election Day for politicizing Trump's impeachment Trump chooses high-profile but controversial legal team Trump: Impeachment timing intended to hurt Sanders MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Republicans want a two-year budget caps deal, which would allow them to avoid a divisive fight in the middle of the 2020 election, but there's little sign that they'll be able to clinch the agreement before they leave town at the end of the month. 
 
"We just want it passed. We don't care how it's passed," Mnuchin added when asked if the debt vote should be a "clean" standalone measure. 
 
The meeting in McConnell's office comes after spending talks derailed late last month amid a standoff between the White House and congressional Democrats. 
 
If Congress can't get a deal, Mnuchin has floated a one-year continuing resolution, which would extend current spending levels, with a one-year debt ceiling hike — an offer that has been panned by Senate Republicans
 
Instead, they have pointed to the White House and Pelosi as the two "key players" required to sign off before they can get a deal and urged them to resume talks. 
 
"Secretary Mnuchin is discussing the matter with the Speaker, and that's where it goes next," McConnell told reporters after the meeting on Wednesday.  
 
Pelosi had been expected to speak with Mnuchin by the phone on Wednesday, after the two initially discussed the debt ceiling and spending talks on Tuesday. 
 
But an aide said on Wednesday evening that the call had been moved to Thursday afternoon at Mnuchin's request.