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 MnuchinBolton exit provokes questions about Trump shift on Iran Trump called out for 'my favorite dictator' while awaiting Egyptian leader at summit: report Romney opposes Trump taking executive action to reduce capital gains taxes 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 McConnellO'Rourke responds to Buttigieg's gun criticism: 'That calculation and fear is what got us here in the first place' Cicilline on Trump investigations versus legislation: 'We have to do both' The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation MORE (R-Ky.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyPence extends olive branch to Cummings after Trump's Baltimore attacks Marijuana industry donations to lawmakers surge in 2019: analysis McCarthy: Trump traveling to Baltimore shows he cares about the city MORE (R-Calif.), acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyNOAA chief praises agency scientists after statement backing up Trump tweet The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Democrats ramp up calls to investigate NOAA 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 PelosiProgressives call for impeachment inquiry after reported Kavanaugh allegations The promise and peril of offshoring prescription drug pricing Words matter, except to Democrats, when it involves impeaching Trump 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.