Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told President Joe Biden this week that he should resolve the debt ceiling situation by negotiating with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
McConnell wrote to Biden on Monday, warning that Senate Republicans will not vote to raise the debt ceiling to help Senate Democrats pass the proposed $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation “Build Back Better” bill.
He said that it is time for Biden to “engage directly” with Democrats in Congress, so they understand that they will not “sleepwalk toward an avoidable catastrophe” that they have months to prepare for avoiding.
McConnell reminded Biden of his refusal when he was in the Senate to vote for raising the debt ceiling, as he was then in opposition to the sitting president’s agenda. He added that Biden’s “view then is our view now.”
Senate Democrats got clearance from the Senate Parliamentarian over the weekend for using budget reconciliation to raise the debt ceiling. They expect to use the same process in passing the budget reconciliation spending bill.
The Senate filibuster rule will prevent Democrats from passing the bill without at least 10 Republican votes without access to that process. It appears highly unlikely to receive a single Republican vote in the Senate for Biden’s spending plan.
Schumer said as recently as last week that he would not use budget reconciliation to enact a measure raising the debt ceiling. He said that using the “convoluted” process is “very, very risky.”
At least one Senate Republican has said that there would be Republican support for suspending or raising the debt ceiling if the Senate did not pass Biden’s massive spending bill. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said that the Senate could vote to suspend the debt ceiling through the end of 2022 if Biden “abandoned the plans” for the Build Back Better bill.
It is implausible that Biden will scrap the spending bill or that Republicans will abide by any extended period of an unfunded federal government due to the debt ceiling. It’s unclear whether McConnell will press Biden to have Democrats increase the debt ceiling unilaterally.