A potential breakthrough on Capitol Hill, with the future of social security payments, food stamps, and no less than the global economy on the line: Senators are eyeing a stopgap measure to raise the nation’s borrowing limit, thereby avoiding default.
New York’s own Senator Charles Schumer has been in the middle of this fight for weeks, battling Republican leader Mitch McConnell over how to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.
“If Republicans would just get out of the damn way, we could get this all done,” Schumer told reporters earlier this week.
For weeks, Schumer has warned against using a legislative maneuver called reconciliation. It would allow Democrats to vote to raise the debt limit and pay off government bills without Republican votes, but the process would also take a bunch of time.
McConnell, though, has repeatedly stymied other options.
“Even now while the Democratic leader complains that he’s short on time, he continues to waste time with partisan stunts that are dead on arrival,” the Kentucky Republican said on the floor Wednesday.
Schumer has tried to paint McConnell and other Republicans as hypocrites, arguing that much of the debt in question was accrued under a Republican president, Donald Trump, and noting that Republicans have lifted the debt ceiling before.
“He’s making the best of obstructionism by the Republican leader. He’s making the best of a very challenging situation,” Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal said of Schumer.
The stalemate has created yet another complication for President Joe Biden as he tries to get his agenda through Congress, argues Casey Burgat, the director of the legislative affairs program at the George Washington University.
On top of that, Burgat says, there is no shaming McConnell.
“He's proven it over and over that even a position that he held six months ago can be completely reversed if it benefits him and his party politically,” he said.
However, on Wednesday afternoon, McConnell appeared to give some ground in this battle.
He offered to let Democrats approve a stopgap increase in the debt limit so the government can keep paying its bills for a few more weeks.
Democrats argue that it importantly also buys them time to finish up work on Biden’s agenda.