https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/575659-senate-poised-to-stave-off-debt-crisis

The Senate appeared poised to stave off a debt ceiling crisis of its own making on Wednesday after Democrats said they could accept a surprise offer from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money — Presented by NRHC — Democrats cross the debt ceiling Rubicon Democrats insist they won’t back down on debt ceiling Schumer warns October recess in jeopardy over debt limit fight MORE (R-Ky.) to raise the debt limit for two months.

McConnell made the offer shortly before the Senate was prepared to hold another vote on extending the nation’s borrowing limit just more than a week before a possible debt default. Republicans had been set to reject the measure.

The vote was quickly canceled after Democrats emerged from a meeting saying they could agree to the McConnell offer.

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“In terms of a temporary lifting of the debt ceiling, we view that as a victory, a temporary victory with more work to do,” Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinSenate Democrats dial down the Manchin tension Biden sidesteps GOP on judicial vacancies, for now Democrats confront ‘Rubik’s cube on steroids’ MORE (D-Wis.) told CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperGottheimer: ‘No reason’ why Democrats shouldn’t pass infrastructure bill right away Frederica Wilson rails against Haitian deportation flights, calls treatment ‘inhumane’ WHIP LIST: How House Democrats, Republicans say they’ll vote on infrastructure bill MORE after the meeting.

A key GOP centrist, Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiDemocrats scramble for strategy to avoid default Do progressives prefer Trump to compromise? This week: Democrats hit make-or-break moment for Biden MORE (Alaska), also embraced the proposal, saying it was “going to give us a way out of the woods, which is what we want.”

The game of debt ceiling chicken between McConnell and Democrats was beginning to fray nerves in financial worlds given the Oct. 18 deadline for action set by the Treasury Department.

The White House and Democrats had sought to put more pressure on McConnell, with President BidenJoe BidenBiden announces nominations for Arts and Humanities endowments Biden and Xi agree to abide by Taiwan agreement On The Money — Presented by NRHC — Democrats cross the debt ceiling Rubicon MORE for a second time in three days going to the cameras to urge the GOP to agree to raise the debt ceiling.

Democrats had also begun discussing a possible carve-out from the Senate filibuster to raise the debt ceiling and get around Republicans, though centrist Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOn The Money — Presented by NRHC — Democrats cross the debt ceiling Rubicon Biden indicates he would sign reconciliation bill with Hyde amendment Overnight Energy & Environment — Manchin opens door for .9T to .2T spending bill MORE (D-W.Va.) before McConnell’s proposal had publicly signaled his opposition to that avenue.

The deal McConnell offered is unlikely to lead to any GOP votes for raising the debt ceiling, but it will also stop Republicans from blocking a suspension.

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It would allow Democrats “to use normal procedures to pass an emergency debt limit extension at a fixed dollar amount to cover current spending levels to December,” per a statement from the Senate GOP leader.

This gives Democrats something they want: a way to avoid using the time-consuming and cumbersome budget reconciliation process to extend the nation’s borrowing authority.

But it will also require Democrats to say they are raising the debt limit by a specific dollar amount, something Republicans will undoubtedly use in campaign ads next year. And it sets up another debt ceiling fight after Thanksgiving.

Some Democrats greeted the proposal glumly at first. Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoSenate Democrats dial down the Manchin tension The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Alibaba – Democrats still at odds over Biden agenda Debt fight revives Democrats’ filibuster angst MORE (D-Hawaii), asked her opinion of the offer, said, “Not much.”

“What kind of offer is that?” she added, calling it “bullshit.”

Yet many declared victory after a closed-door meeting just off the Senate floor where Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerLifting the SALT cap could reduce charitable giving 92 legal scholars call on Harris to preside over Senate to include immigration in reconciliation Schumer: Congress needs to raise debt ceiling by end of the week MORE (D-N.Y.) worked to convince his fellow Democrats that it was the best way forward.

Baldwin argued that the deal will allow Democrats to avoid wasting weeks of floor time on raising the debt ceiling under the reconciliation process when they would prefer to be working on a reconciliation package to implement President Biden’s $3.5 trillion Build Back Better agenda.

“I believe that Mitch McConnell is trying to steer [us] into this reconciliation process because it takes us away from the main Biden Build Back Better agenda,” she said. “We intend to take this temporary victory and then try to work with the Republicans to do this on a longer-term basis.”

“McConnell caved,” Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOn The Money — Presented by NRHC — Democrats cross the debt ceiling Rubicon Trump endorses Diehl for Massachusetts governor, slams ‘RINO’ Baker Overnight Energy & Environment — Manchin opens door for .9T to .2T spending bill MORE (D-Mass.) declared after the caucus meeting. “And now we’re going to spend our time doing child care, health care and fighting climate change.”

Some Democrats made the argument that by agreeing to the deal, McConnell will be under pressure to again use regular order to raise the debt ceiling in November instead, and have less of a rationale to force Democrats to use budget reconciliation to allow the nation to take on more debt.

“We’ve made it clear we’re not using budget reconciliation, period,” said one Democratic senator who requested anonymity to comment on the deal. “The question for McConnell is, if you’re OK with allowing the Democrats to raise the debt ceiling for a couple months, why would you put the U.S. economy in continued jeopardy” by forcing another showdown in December.

McConnell in his statement said that while he would allow Democrats to use regular procedures to raise the debt ceiling high enough to cover federal spending until December, he’s not dropping his demand they use the time-consuming reconciliation process to raise it any higher.

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He said the deal “will moot Democrats’ excuses about the time crunch they created and give the unified Democratic government more than enough time to pass standalone debt limit legislation through reconciliation.”

Other Senate Republicans sounded happy with the short-term fix after hearing about it, knowing they will still have leverage over the Democrats later this year and will be able to run campaign ads next year on vulnerable Democrats voting for a bigger overall debt number.

The deal means vulnerable Democrats such as Sens. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanRepublican candidates tack toward right on abortion Kelly leads in all potential head-to-heads of Arizona Senate race: poll Democrats see Harris as major player in midterms MORE (D-N.H.) and Mark KellyMark KellyAttacks on Sinema turn increasingly personal Arizona Democrats’ frustration with Sinema comes to a head Sinema viewed unfavorably by one-third of Arizona Democrats in poll MORE (D-Ariz.) will have to vote to raise the debt ceiling to a specific number and not just vote to suspend the debt limit until a later date, such as after the 2022 midterm elections.

One of the few critics on the GOP side was former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden announces nominations for Arts and Humanities endowments On The Money — Presented by NRHC — Democrats cross the debt ceiling Rubicon Trump endorses Diehl for Massachusetts governor, slams ‘RINO’ Baker MORE, who issued a statement blasting McConnell for not taking an even harder line, even though doing so could have provoked a financial crisis.

“Looks like Mitch McConnell is folding to the Democrats again. He’s got all of the cards with the debt ceiling, it’s time to play the hand. Don’t let them destroy our Country!” Trump fumed in a statement.

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