McConnell Offers Short-Term Debt Ceiling Extension In Bid To Stave Off Default

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is offering Democrats a short-term debt ceiling extension in a bid to avoid a Treasury default.

“To protect the American people from a near-term Democrat-created crisis, we will 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 Wednesday statement.

His proposal would give Democratic leadership more time to raise the debt ceiling through the budget reconciliation, an option that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi have publicly opposed. (RELATED: Top Democrat Admits Congress Can Raise Debt Limit Through Reconciliation. How Would It Work?)

“The unified Democratic government had two and a half months to address the debt limit through reconciliation,” McConnell continued. “Instead, they drifted to the doorstep of yet another self-created Democrat crisis.”

McConnell first revealed the offer during a Wednesday meeting of the entire Senate Republican conference, according to Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has 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.

The Senate will vote for a third time on a bill raising the debt ceiling on Wednesday afternoon. Republicans filibustered the first bill, which combined the debt ceiling provision with government funding. McConnell later objected to a unanimous consent request to allow Democrats to pass a debt ceiling provision with 51 votes. The reconciliation process would allow Democrats to raise the debt ceiling with 51 votes, but requires new budget instructions and vote-a-ramas.

President Joe Biden suggested on Tuesday that Democrats could change rules surrounding the filibuster to raise the debt ceiling, calling the option “a real possibility.” Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin promptly shut the idea down, saying that “nothing changes” in his support for the maneuver, and adding that “we are not going to default as a country.”