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Senate Democrats Accept McConnell Offer on Short-Term Debt Ceiling Extension

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walks past reporters prior to a delayed vote to suspend the federal government’s $28.4 trillion debt ceiling outside the Senate chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., October 6, 2021. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Senate Democrats signaled that they will accept Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R., Ky.) offer for a short-term extension of the debt limit, multiple senators told reporters after a caucus meeting on Thursday.

“I think we’ll end up raising the debt ceiling through December and it gives us the next three months, two months…to focus on finishing the build back better agenda,” Senator Chris Coons (D., Del.) told reporters.

Other Democratic senators said that while the short-term solution was acceptable, the party would not unilaterally raise the debt ceiling via budget reconciliation for the long term.

“We’re going to raise the debt ceiling and we’re going to go on and pass infrastructure,” Senator Tammy Duckworth (D., Ill.) told Politico. “We’re never going to do it through reconciliation.”

Senator Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) echoed those comments, saying Democrats would accept the short term deal but would not use reconciliation to raise the debt limit.

“We made it clear—we’re not doing it through reconciliation. That’s a recipe for long-term disaster. So it’s up to Republicans,” Murphy said.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned on Tuesday that the U.S. would default on its obligations by October 18 if the debt limit is not raised, likely causing a recession, in an interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box. Democrats are simultaneously trying to pass a $1 trillion infrastructure bill and potential $3.5 trillion social spending package.

McConnell and Senate Republicans have for months refused to support raising the debt ceiling due to their opposition to new government spending by Democrats. However, McConnell said on Wednesday that Republicans would be willing to “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.”

McConnell was reportedly concerned that Democrats could pressure moderate Senators Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) to suspend the filibuster in order for the party to raise the debt ceiling, according to CNN.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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