Mitch McConnell Is Setting Up Another Debt-Ceiling Fight

With just a month to go until the limit is reached, the Senate minority leader is looking for a showdown.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) arrives at a press conference, September 26, 2013 in Washington, DC.
National Journal
Matt Berman
See more stories about...
Matt Berman
Jan. 26, 2014, 5:25 a.m.

It’s a month end­ing with a “y” or “r,” so that means it’s time for an­oth­er polit­ic­al fight over the debt ceil­ing.

On Fox News Sunday, Sen­ate Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell made it clear he’s go­ing to push for policy riders on an in­crease in the debt ceil­ing.{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4677) }}

“I think for the pres­id­ent to ask for a clean debt ceil­ing, when we have a debt the size of our eco­nomy, is ir­re­spons­ible,” Mc­Con­nell said Sunday. “So we ought to dis­cuss adding something to his re­quest to raise the debt ceil­ing that does something about the debt or pro­duces at least something pos­it­ive for our coun­try.” And while Mc­Con­nell again in­sisted that the U.S. would not de­fault on its debt, he ad­ded “We ought to at­tach something sig­ni­fic­ant for the coun­try to his re­quest to in­crease the debt ceil­ing.”

The U.S. debt lim­it must be raised by the end of Feb­ru­ary, says Treas­ury Sec­ret­ary Jac­ob Lew, if the U.S. is not to de­fault on its debt. Lew asked Con­gress in a let­ter Wed­nes­day to raise the lim­it by Feb­ru­ary 7.

Right now, es­pe­cially after what happened last fall, it’s hard to see the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion com­prom­ising on a “clean” debt-lim­it ex­ten­sion, which would have no oth­er policies or spend­ing cuts at­tached. But Mc­Con­nell isn’t the only one look­ing for a fight. “The speak­er has said that we should not de­fault on our debt, or even get close to it, but a ‘clean’ debt lim­it in­crease simply won’t pass in the House,” John Boehner’s spokes­man Mi­chael Steel said this week.

Back in Oc­to­ber, GOP lead­ers agreed to pass a clean ex­ten­sion of the debt ceil­ing at the last minute as part of the deal to end the gov­ern­ment shut­down, but did so without the sup­port of most House Re­pub­lic­ans. Now, with elec­tions com­ing up, a vote to ex­tend the lim­it is even harder for some mem­bers to stom­ach. 

With the State of the Uni­on and the an­nu­al Re­pub­lic­an re­treat com­ing up this week, there’s even less time than there may seem for Con­gress to deal with the ceil­ing. It’s go­ing to be a busy couple of weeks, and we may have yet an­oth­er dead­line debt-lim­it stan­doff right around the corner.

What We're Following See More »
STAYING RELEVANT TIL 2020?
Rubio May Run for Reelection After All
5 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
SOCIAL ISSUES ROIL CONGRESS AGAIN
LGBT Amendment Sinks Energy and Water Approps
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

The House voted down the otherwise uncontroversial Energy and Water appropriations bill Thursday after Democrats succeeded in attaching an amendment affirming LGBT job discrimination protections for military contractors. More than 40 Republicans supported the amendment, but when it came to vote on the bill, 130 Republicans joined all but six Democrats to sink the bill. Speaker Paul Ryan said Democrats voting against the bill after securing the amendment shows their intention was to scuttle the process. Democrats, however, blamed other so-called poison-pill amendments for their votes against the bill. Nonetheless, Ryan said he intends to continue the appropriations process.

AKNOWLEDGING THE INEVITABLE
UAW: Time to Unite Behind Hillary
8 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.

Source:
SCREENING DELAYS
70,000 Have Missed American Airlines Flights This Year
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Airport screening delays have caused more than 70,000 American Airlines customers and 40,000 checked bags to miss their flights this year, an executive for the airline told a U.S. congressional subcommittee on Thursday. A shortage of staff and a surge in air travelers have created a nightmare scenario for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), with airport wait times in places like Chicago stretching beyond two hours."

Source:
AP KEEPING COUNT
Trump Clinches Enough Delegates for the Nomination
9 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."

Source:
×