Whistling Past the Debt Ceiling

Good morning from the nation’s capital. We’re two weeks out from a catastrophic debt default, and neither side is showing any signs yet of blinking in their staredown over how to address the problem.

Republicans are expected to filibuster a standalone measure to suspend the debt ceiling when it comes forward for a procedural vote tomorrow. GOP senators have already blocked two other attempts to suspend the ceiling through December 2022. Republican leaders say they don’t oppose raising the debt limit, they just think Democrats should have to do it themselves.

Much of the obligations in question stem from spending passed under former President Donald Trump. Nonetheless, Republicans are tying the debt ceiling to Democrats’ plans to pass a massive social investments package through the budget reconciliation process. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling for Democrats to approve a debt ceiling hike through reconciliation, a process that would take up floor time in the face of an October 18 deadline and would subject Senate Democrats to a series of uncomfortable votes on amendments as part of the process.

(Alternatively, if Democrats don’t want to pursue the change through reconciliation, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine helpfully suggested yesterday, they could win Republican support for raising the debt limit by simply abandoning their domestic agenda.)

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