Rest Up From the Budget Fight, Because There’s a Debt Ceiling One Around the Corner

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
National Journal
Elahe Izadi
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Elahe Izadi
Dec. 17, 2013, 10:34 a.m.

Don’t ex­pect the re­l­at­ive fisc­al peace on the Hill en­gendered by the budget deal to last for long. Top Re­pub­lic­ans are already look­ing ahead to the next fight: the debt ceil­ing.

“I doubt that the House, or, for that mat­ter, the Sen­ate, is will­ing to give the pres­id­ent a clean debt-ceil­ing in­crease,” Sen­ate Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell told re­port­ers Tues­day.

Mc­Con­nell ap­peared to de­fer to his House GOP coun­ter­parts to fig­ure out what, ex­actly, they can ex­tract us­ing the lever­age of the debt ceil­ing. “I can’t ima­gine it be­ing done ‘clean,’ so we’ll have to see what the House in­sists on adding to it as a con­di­tion for pas­sage.”

His com­ments come after House Budget Chair­man Paul Ry­an said over the week­end that his caucus, with Sen­ate coun­ter­parts, will have to “meet and dis­cuss what it is we want out of the debt lim­it.”

“We don’t want noth­ing out of this debt lim­it,” Paul said on Fox News Sunday. “We’re go­ing to de­cide what it is we can ac­com­plish out of this debt-lim­it fight.”

Con­gress may not have to face the pro­spect of rais­ing the coun­try’s bor­row­ing lim­it un­til March, or maybe even as late as June, ac­cord­ing to the Con­gres­sion­al Budget Of­fice.

Mc­Con­nell, who has been re­l­at­ively mum on the debt lim­it in the gov­ern­ment-shut­down af­ter­math, still eyes the debt lim­it as something that Re­pub­lic­ans can use to get something out of the ad­min­is­tra­tion and Demo­crat­ic con­gres­sion­al lead­ers.

“Every time the pres­id­ent asks us to raise the debt ceil­ing is a good time to try and achieve something im­port­ant for the coun­try, and as you all know, many sig­ni­fic­ant pieces of le­gis­la­tion have been at­tached to debt ceil­ings over the years,” Mc­Con­nell said Tues­day. “The debt-ceil­ing le­gis­la­tion is a time that brings us all to­geth­er and gets the pres­id­ent’s at­ten­tion, which with this pres­id­ent in par­tic­u­lar when it comes to re­du­cing spend­ing, is a bit of a chal­lenge.”

Michael Catalin contributed to this article.
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