Senate Democrats Accept McConnell’s Short Term Debt Ceiling Hike

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Senate Democrats will accept Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s offer of a short-term debt ceiling hike to avoid a federal default, multiple members announced after a full caucus meeting.

It would have been a disaster if this did not happen,” Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who caucuses with the Democrats, told reporters. However, he added, Democrats will not use the reconciliation process to raise the debt ceiling after the short-term hike ends. McConnell’s offer would raise the debt ceiling through the month of November, allowing Democrats to use reconciliation to raise the debt ceiling unilaterally.

The offer “moot[s] 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,” McConnell said.

Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth characterized McConnell’s offer as “folding” while saying that Democrats will “never” use reconciliation to raise the debt limit.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned that the U.S. government will default on its debts by Oct. 18, which could lead to a downgrade of the government’s credit rating, a worldwide recession and a pause on Social Security payments, if the debt ceiling was not raised.

The Senate was originally scheduled to vote on a cloture motion that would allow a vote on the debt ceiling Wednesday afternoon, but McConnell’s offer and the subsequent Democrat caucus meeting delayed the vote. (Schumer: Congress Must Raise Debt Ceiling This Week)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki claimed during her Wednesday press conference that Democrats “don’t need to kick the can. We don’t need to go through a cumbersome process that every day brings additional risk.”

The budget reconciliation process can take between two and three weeks, so an extension until the end of November would appear to give Democrats more than enough time to complete it.

“We’re at this point… because Republicans in Congress treated the savings accounts and retirement savings of the American people, Social Security checks of retirees, and veterans benefits like a game of monopoly, putting the stability and security of the American people at risk,” she added.