WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy should take the lead in crafting a solution to the debt ceiling deadline so that the United States can continue to pay its bills.
McCarthy, the Senate Republican leader, said it’s reasonable for him to consider spending cuts as part of a debt limit extension before the Treasury Department’s June 5 deadline to avert economic disaster. Democratic leaders, including President Joe Biden, have said they will not consider any cuts or other debt-ceiling negotiations.
“I can’t imagine any debt ceiling provision passed out of the Senate with 60 votes could actually pass this particular House,” McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters, referring to the threshold for breaking a filibuster and passing a bill. “So I believe the final resolution to this particular episode lies between Speaker McCarthy and the president.”
He stated that a solution “will have to come out of the House.”
“So I think it’s entirely reasonable for the new speaker and his team to put spending cuts on the table,” McConnell said. “I wish him well in talking to the president. That is where a solution can be found.”
McConnell’s remarks put pressure on McCarthy, who is attempting to navigate House GOP hardliners’ demands for aggressive spending cuts as part of any debt ceiling extension. While McConnell has negotiated previous deals with Biden, including when he was vice president, McCarthy has little experience negotiating complex deals with Democrats. It’s unclear what, if anything, will garner enough votes to pass the House, where Republicans hold a slim majority.
Biden has stated unequivocally that the debt limit is non-negotiable and that he will not make any concessions to meet the country’s obligations. And Democratic leaders are behind him.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, agreed with McConnell that the onus is on McCarthy to move on the debt limit.
“McConnell made the case for us. He claims that the House must come first “Schumer told a small group of reporters Tuesday afternoon in the Capitol. “We’re just going a step further and saying yes, not only that they have to go first, but they have to show us a plan.”
The Treasury Department says it is taking “extraordinary measures” to keep paying the country’s bills after it reached the statutory debt ceiling last week. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned of dire economic consequences if Congress does not act.
“Default would be a disaster for American working families. It is not a theoretical issue. “It will have a significant and negative impact on every American family,” Schumer said earlier in the day at a press conference. “And playing brinksmanship, taking hostages is being risky and not caring about average people. If the MAGA GOP fails to pay our nation’s bills, Americans will pay the price.”
Last week, the White House announced that Biden would meet with McCarthy and other congressional leaders to discuss a variety of issues. McCarthy stated unequivocally that he intends to raise the debt ceiling.
Asked what kind of debt ceiling bill could get enough votes to pass the Senate, Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., said: “I would say anything that can get through a Republican House, and that could be signed by the president, probably could get 60 in the Senate.
“It’s just a very practical consideration that whatever agreement is reached will almost certainly have to be negotiated by the president and the speaker and his team in the House.”