WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) met today for what the GOP leader characterized as a “good meeting to discuss raising the debt ceiling, which we all know will need to be done sometime in the next month or so.”
“And we are going to be looking for a way forward to do that together to make sure America continues to never, ever default,” McConnell told reporters outside of a closed policy luncheon on Capitol Hill. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who has been lobbying congressional leaders to move forward with a clean debt limit hike, was also in the meeting.
Congress will have to take up debt ceiling negotiations when they return after Labor Day as the Sept. 29 deadline looms.
“To ensure that we have robust economic growth and to promote fiscal discipline, the Trump administration believes it’s important to raise the debt ceiling as soon as possible,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters today when asked if a hike could get done in time. “Over the past two decades, members of Congress and presidents from both parties have raised the debt ceiling 15 times, and we look forward to working with Congress to ensure the full faith and credit of the United States government.”
According to the Treasury Department, the debt ceiling has been raised by Congress 78 times since 1960, 20 more instances under GOP administrations.
“Based upon our available information, I believe that it is critical that Congress act to increase the nation’s borrowing authority by September 29, 2017,” Mnuchin wrote to lawmakers on Friday. “I urge Congress to act promptly on this important matter.”
The current debt limit is $19.8 trillion.
Schumer told reporters outside his party’s caucus meeting that they still “don’t know where the White House is, because they have different factions who are saying different things — and there were two people missing at that meeting: Speaker Ryan and Leader Pelosi.”
“The key here is the House. The Republicans that are in charge — where is the House? Where are the House Republicans, and where is Speaker Ryan?” he asked. “Before we can address the debt limit, we have to know where they’re at.”