Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is offering Democrats a lifeline. On the fast-approaching deadline to increase the debt limit, he is dangling a short-term increase — perhaps to the end of 2021 — that would allow the Democrats to go forward using normal procedures and set a fixed dollar amount for how high the debt can be increased.
The GOP still won’t vote for an increase but won’t stand in Schumer’s way if he wants to pass an increase on a party-line vote.
“To protect the American people from a near-term Democrat-created crisis, we will also allow Democrats to use normal procedures to pass an emergency debt limit extension at a fixed dollar amount to cover current spending levels into December,” he said in a statement posted to Twitter.
“This will moot Democrats’ excuses about the time crunch they created and give the unified Democratic government more than enough time to pass standalone debt limit legislation through reconciliation,” the Kentucky Republican added.
Additional pressure for Schumer to accept McConnell’s offer is coming from Senator Joe Manchin, who is refusing to suspend the filibuster rule to pass a debt limit increase or suspension.
“I’ve been very, very clear where I stand, where I stand on the filibuster,” Manchin told reporters Wednesday. “Nothing’s changing. But the bottom line is we have a responsibility to be the adults. Our leadership has a responsibility to lead and that’s what I’m asking, imploring them to do.”
Democrats will be left with little option but to look at pushing through a ceiling hike by way of budget reconciliation – an option that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said last week was a “non-starter.”
McConnell has seen the polling showing Democrats would be blamed far more than Republicans for default.
Just 1 in 5 voters would blame Republicans if the U.S. failed to raise the debt ceiling and defaulted on its national debt, the poll reveals, despite Democrats’ clear attack on GOP strategy.
That said, about 2 in 5 voters said they would blame both parties equally, while 31 percent would find Democrats culpable.
When broken down by party, 56 percent of Republican voters — rather unsurprisingly — said they would blame Democrats, but just 32 percent of Democrats said they’d think the GOP at fault.
That said, it all depends on what number McConnell has in mind for a debt limit. If McConnell wants to blow up the Democrats and the Biden administration, he can throw out a number that would prevent the Democrats from passing their gargantuan spending plans. If that’s the case, Schumer would have no choice but to go the reconciliation route and the Democrats would be tarred with the whole debt limit mess.
McConnell’s end game is to block the Biden agenda without appearing to block it. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out over the next 10 days.