Democratic and Republican senators do not agree on much, but they do share a belief that the shutdown stalemate will spill over into the debt-ceiling debate, with the likelihood that the government will stay shuttered until the Treasury Department reaches its borrowing limit in mid-October.
“I think having them together is a good thing, because who wants to go through it again?” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “With debt ceiling it’s triply, it’s 20 times as dangerous — as bad as shutting the government down is.”
Senate Republicans say the issues have become fused and realize that they could have more leverage in the debate over federal spending as the government gets closer to reaching the debt ceiling, now projected to be on Oct. 17.
“I think almost everyone acknowledges that the two issues for all intents and purposes have become merged,” said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss. “Why would anyone make a deal on one aspect and then get right back down to the brink?”
As to how the parties resolve the stalemate, lawmakers have been discussing a so-called grand bargain, but there’s little hope that the White House and Congress could reach common ground on such a deal, having failed at it before.
“It gets now into debt limit,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. “So it almost argues for a grand bargain, but that approach has failed so many times that one can’t have a lot of optimism about it. So we’re in a very tough situation. No doubt about it.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., does not publicly see things as so complicated, holding firm that before he’ll negotiate on anything in a conference, House Republicans must pass the Senate’s continuing resolution with no strings attached.
“Let the House stop those irresponsible, reckless games and just reopen the government,” Reid said.
Senate Democrats have also begun arguing that a “clean” bill to raise the debt ceiling should be considered along with a clean CR. Previously they have said they would deal with the debt ceiling once it got closer.
Asked whether Democrats want the House to pass a CR and a clean debt-limit increase together, Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., said it was critical for Republicans to “open up the government.” But she agreed that the two issues would coincide.
“The timing is here,” Murray said. “Debt limit is 10 days, eight days away, whatever it is.”
Democrats are hoping that by taking a stand on the shutdown, they’re sending a clear signal to Republicans to back down over the debt limit.
“The hope is maybe once the tea party has realized it’s not getting its way on shutting down the government that they won’t try the same stunt on the debt ceiling,” Schumer said.
But Republicans want the president and Democrats to negotiate now. The path to opening government and raising the debt limit, the thinking goes, is for each side to have something at stake. That’s not the dynamic now, they say.
“But I don’t think you get a grand bargain or anything that resembles it unless you got a president at the table, you got bicameral leadership at the table, and everybody’s gonna walk away with something that they wanted and something that they didn’t want,” said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.
What We're Following See More »
The Democratic National Committee issued a formal apology to Bernie Sanders today, after leaked emails showed staffers trying to sabotage his presidential bid. "On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email," DNC officials said in the statement. "These comments do not reflect the values of the DNC or our steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process. The DNC does not—and will not—tolerate disrespectful language exhibited toward our candidates."
The chairman of the DCCC said Debbie Wasserman Schultz won't be getting financial help from the organization this year, even as she faces a well-funded primary challenger. "Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) said the committee’s resources will be spent helping Democrats in tough races rather than those in seats that are strongholds for the party." Executive Director Kelly Ward added, “We never spend money in safe seats."
Debbie Wasserman Schultz has given up her last remaining duty at this week's convention. Now, she's told her hometown newspaper, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, that she will not gavel in the convention today. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will do the honors instead. "I have decided that in the interest of making sure that we can start the Democratic convention on a high note that I am not going to gavel in the convention," Wasserman Schultz said.
Perhaps this talk of unity has been overstated. Addressing a room full of his supporters today, Bernie Sanders heard "sustained boos" when he said he said it was essential that we elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.
The FBI this morning issued a statement saying it is "investigating a cyber intrusion involving the DNC," adding that "a compromise of this nature is something we take very seriously." Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton's campaign is suggesting that the hack "was committed by Russia to benefit Donald Trump."