WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy should lead crafting a debt-limit solution so the United States can keep paying its bills.
The Senate GOP leader said it’s reasonable for McCarthy to consider spending cuts as part of a debt limit extension before what the Treasury Department says is the June 5 deadline to avoid economic calamity. . But Democratic leaders and President Joe Biden say they will not consider cuts or other negotiations tied to the debt ceiling.
“I can’t imagine any debt ceiling provision passed by the Senate with 60 votes could actually pass in this particular House,” McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, told reporters, referring to the threshold for breaking a filibuster. and pass a bill. «So I think the final solution to this particular episode is between Chairman McCarthy and the President.»
He said a settlement «will have to come out of the House.»
«So I think it’s entirely reasonable that the new speaker and his team would bring spending reduction to the table,» McConnell said. “I wish him the best in speaking with the president. That is where a solution lies.”
McConnell’s comments add to the pressure on McCarthy, who is seeking to circumvent demands by hardline House Republicans to force aggressive spending cuts as part of any debt ceiling extension. While McConnell negotiated previous deals with Biden, including when he was vice president, McCarthy has little experience negotiating complicated deals with Democrats. It’s unclear what, if anything, he can get the votes through in the House, where Republicans control a slim majority.
Biden has made it clear that the debt limit is non-negotiable and that he will not make concessions to meet the country’s obligations. And Democratic leaders are behind him.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., agreed with McConnell that McCarthy has a responsibility to move forward on the debt limit.
«McConnell made the case for us. He says the House has to go first,» Schumer told a small group of reporters Tuesday afternoon on Capitol Hill. «We’re just taking a little step further and saying yes, not just going first, but they have to show us a plan.»
The Treasury Department says it is using «extraordinary measures» to keep paying the country’s bills after it hit the legal debt ceiling last week. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned of dire economic consequences if Congress fails to act.
“Failure would be a catastrophe for America’s working families. It is not an abstract topic. It is going to severely and negatively affect all American families,” Schumer said Tuesday at his news conference. “And playing risk, taking hostages is risky and not caring about average people. If MAGA GOP stops paying our nation’s bills, Americans will pay the price.»
The White House said last week that Biden would meet with McCarthy, along with other congressional leaders, to discuss a variety of issues. McCarthy made it clear that he plans to increase the debt limit.
When asked what kind of debt ceiling bill could get enough votes to pass the Senate, Minority Whip John Thune, RS.D., said: “I would say anything that can get through a Republican House, and that can be signed by the president, it could probably get 60 in the Senate.
«It’s just a very practical consideration that whatever agreement is reached will probably have to be negotiated by the president and by the speaker and his team in the House.»