Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday told reporters he will not take the lead in debt limit negotiations with the White House and said any bill to avoid a national default later this year will have to originate in the Republican-controlled House.
While McConnell cut a deal with Senate Democrats to allow them to move a debt limit increase around a potential GOP filibuster in the fall of 2021 and negotiated another deal to end the 2011 debt limit impasse, he told reporters he doesn’t plan to play that role again.
“You’re probably wondering what role if any the Senate would play in this. As some of you recall, I’ve been through a few of these debt ceiling situations,” McConnell said.
“I can’t imagine any kind of debt ceiling measure that could pass the Senate would also pass the House, so even though the debt ceiling could originate in either the House or the Senate, in this current situation, the debt ceiling fix, if there is one, or how it’s to be dealt with, will have to come out of the House,” he added.
McConnell endorsed Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) plan to insist on linking deficit-reducing reforms to a bill to raise the debt ceiling and encouraged President Biden to come to the negotiating table.
“So I think it’s entirely reasonable for the new Speaker and his team to put spending reduction on the table. I wish him well in talking to the president. That’s where a solution lies,” he said. “At the risk of repeating myself, I can’t imagine any debt ceiling provision passed out of the Senate with 60 votes could actually pass this particular House.”
“So I think the final solution to this particular episode lies between Speaker McCarthy and the president,” he said.
McConnell delivered his comments shortly after Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned House Republicans not to hold the debt limit hostage to get Democrats agree to spending cuts.
“We’re now witnessing the House GOP recklessly flirt with default. Listen, it’s clear, default would be a catastrophe for American working families,” Schumer said. “Playing brinksmanship, taking hostages is being risky and not caring about average people.
“If the MAGA GOP stops paying our nation’s bills, Americans pay the price,” he warned. “Political brinksmanship would be a massive hit to local economies, American families, nothing less than an economic crisis.”
Yet Schumer did not completely rule out negotiating a budget deal that would also raise the debt limit, which he did in 2019 when Democrats in Congress negotiated a $320 billion discretionary spending deal with congressional Republicans and the Trump administration to raise the debt ceiling past the 2020 election.
“I’m not going to negotiate in public. Obviously, again, we want to make sure we negotiate a budget that’s good for the average working family. We did that in the omnibus bill. we were very pleased with the outcome there, and hopefully it can be done again without brinksmanship, but I’m not going to get into specifics,” he said.