McConnell warns GOP won’t vote to raise debt ceiling
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is warning that Republicans won’t help raise the debt ceiling and is urging Democrats to include the spending hike in an infrastructure bill that they can pass along party lines.
“I can’t imagine there will be a single Republican voting to raise the debt ceiling after what we’ve been experiencing,” McConnell told Punchbowl News.
McConnell — whose office confirmed his remarks to The Hill — added that Democrats should include the hike in reconciliation, the process they are using to pass a $3.5 trillion spending package by a simple majority in the Senate.
Under a 2019 deal during the Trump administration, Congress agreed to let the government borrow through July 31.
To raise the debt ceiling outside of reconciliation, Democrats would need 10 GOP votes in addition to all 50 members of their own caucus.
But top Republicans have been sending warning signs for months that they won’t agree to a “clean” increase of the debt limit.
“I’d say it’s unlikely,” said Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, told The Hill in June when asked about the likelihood of enough Republican support for raising the debt ceiling.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, told Bloomberg that he’ll lay out his demands next week on what it would take to get GOP support to suspend the debt ceiling.
DEBT CEILING: @LindseyGrahamSC says next week he will lay out GOP demands in exchange for vote to suspend debt ceiling
— Erik Wasson (@elwasson) July 20, 2021
The debt ceiling will automatically kick back on Aug. 1, after which the Treasury Department can use “extraordinary measures” to keep the government solvent. The Treasury Department hasn’t given an official date for when those measures would run out, but Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned it could be some time in August.
The uncertainty adds a wildcard into trying to fit the debt ceiling into reconciliation. Though Senate Democrats are vowing to pass a budget resolution before they leave for the August break, they aren’t expected to pass the $3.5 trillion package itself until later this fall. The timing of their work on that package is fluid, and Congress is likely to be consumed for weeks once they return from the August recess with a separate fight over funding the government.
Democrats would also need total unity from all 50 of their members in the Senate and near-total unity in the House to agree to use their spending plan to also raise the debt ceiling.