Politics & Policy

McConnell Offers Dems Debt-Limit Lifeline as Default Looms

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., September 28, 2021. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) on Wednesday floated a short-term extension of the debt limit in order to avoid a looming default.

“Whether through miscalculation or a deliberate effort to bully their own members into wrecking the Senate, top Democrats have risked adding a default crisis to the inflation crisis, border crisis, and Afghanistan crisis they have already created,” McConnell said in a statement.


Republicans “have already made it clear we would assist in expediting the 304 reconciliation process for stand-alone debt limit legislation,” McConnell continued. “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.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki urged Congress not to wait until December for a final deal to raise the debt ceiling, in response to McConnell’s proposal.

“Why kick the can down the road another couple of weeks? Why create an additional layer of uncertainty?” Psaki said at a White House press conference. “Why not just get it done now?”

McConnell made the offer amid concerns that Democrats could pressure Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) to suspend the filibuster in order to raise the debt ceiling, CNN reported.

Democrats are currently attempting to negotiate passage of a $1 trillion infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion social spending package. McConnell and Republican colleagues have refused to back raising the federal debt ceiling to accommodate additional government spending.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the U.S. will enter a recession if the federal government defaults on debt payments, in an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box on Tuesday.

“I do regard October 18 as a deadline. It would be catastrophic to not pay the government’s bills, for us to be in a position where we lacked the resources to pay the government’s bills,” Yellen said. “I fully expect it would cause a recession as well.”

Update 4:40 p.m.This article was updated with remarks by White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is also a violist, and has served in the Israeli Defense Forces.


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