On The Money — McConnell searches for debt deal votes

Happy Wednesday and welcome to On The Money, your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

Today’s Big Deal: Senate Republican leaders are trying to hold up their end of a deal to raise the debt ceiling. We’ll also look at President BidenJoe BidenUS threatens sweeping export controls against Russian industries Headaches intensify for Democrats in Florida US orders families of embassy staff in Ukraine to leave country MORE’s latest moves to keep gas prices low and a timing update on the Build Back Better plan.

But first, Smokey Robinson has a prediction about the 2024 election.

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For The Hill, I’m Sylvan Lane. Write me at slane@thehill.com or @SylvanLane. You can reach my colleagues on the Finance team Naomi Jagoda at njagoda@thehill.com or @NJagoda and Aris Folley at afolley@thehill.com or @ArisFolley.

Let’s get to it.

GOP works to lock down votes on debt deal 

Minority Leader M McConnell (R-Ky.) is seen during a press conference following the weekly policy luncheon on Tuesday, December 7, 2021.

Senate Republicans are working to lock down votes within their conference to pave the way for bypassing the filibuster on a debt ceiling vote.

  • As part of the agreement, the Senate will take an initial vote Thursday on a bill that prevents Medicare cuts and greenlights a one-time exemption from the filibuster for a subsequent debt ceiling bill.
  • At least 10 GOP senators will be needed to get the legislation that eases the way for the simple-majority debt ceiling vote through the Senate.
  • GOP leadership is feeling confident that they’ll be able to round up the votes. But they aren’t there yet.

Asked if he was saying they currently had 10 GOP "yes" votes locked in or that they would have 10 Republican votes by the time the vote started, Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSmall ranchers say Biden letting them get squeezed These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Watch: GOP leaders discuss Biden's first year in office MORE (R-S.D.) quipped with a laugh: "Well, it’s the same right?"

Eleven GOP senators previously helped advance a short-term debt hike in early October. But GOP leaders won’t be able to lean on the exact same mash-up of Republicans. Jordain Carney tells us why here.

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LEADING THE DAY

Pelosi aiming to pass social spending bill before Christmas

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse has the power to subpoena its members — but does it have the will? Man who threatened to kill Ocasio-Cortez, Pelosi pleads guilty to federal charges The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems look to repackage BBB into salvageable bill MORE (D-Calif.) predicted Wednesday that both chambers of Congress will pass the $2 trillion expansion of social benefits and climate programs — a massive package at the heart of President Biden's domestic agenda — before Christmas.

"We feel very confident about what is in Build Back Better," she told reporters in the Capitol. "We know what some possibilities are, and it would be my hope that we would have this bill done before the Christmas vacation."

Speaking at a Wall Street Journal event Tuesday, Manchin amplified his previous concerns about the bill's potential effects on rising inflation, warning that "the unknown we are facing today is much greater than ... this aspiration bill."

Mike Lillis has more here.


Relief on gas prices

 

President Biden on Wednesday said his administration would make sure that Americans are not being “gouged for gas,” noting the recent decline in prices.

  • The price of crude oil has declined from its October peak of almost $85 to $72 per barrel, representing good news for the White House. 
  • As of Wednesday, the average price of gasoline in the U.S. had fallen to $3.35, a smaller decrease.

Biden credited his administration’s decision last month to release 50 million barrels of oil from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve during a speech in Kansas City where he said the average price of gas had fallen below $3 per gallon.

The federal government expects prices to continue to decline over the course of December and January, but it may be driven by uncertainty related to the omicron variant. 

Morgan Chalfant takes us there.

 

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CREDIT CRUNCH

Top Dem vows party won't let expanded child tax credit expire

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesWATCH: The Hill recaps the top stories of the week Fury over voting rights fight turns personal on Capitol Hill  Senate GOP blocks election bill, setting up filibuster face-off MORE (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday voiced confidence that Democrats would not allow the expanded Child Tax Credit to expire at the end of the month as scheduled.

During a press conference, Jeffries defended the expanded credit as transformative for American families and said House Democrats “will not allow this tax credit to expire” and added he doesn’t “believe that the Senate will either.”

Jeffries said President Biden stressed to the party that the credit stood at “the top of the list” of Democratic-backed priorities tucked away in his sprawling social spending plan, dubbed the Build Back Better Act, that the party is working quickly to pass through Congress.

Aris Folley breaks it down here.

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Good to Know

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you Friday.

The Labor Department reported Wednesday that U.S. job openings reached an all-time high of 11 million in October.

Here’s what else have our eye on:

  • Rising costs due to inflation have become a top concern among Americans, a new Monmouth University poll found.
  • Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle grilled Instagram chief Adam Mosseri Wednesday over steps his platform has taken to protect young users.


That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.