Mitch McConnell proposes debt limit deal to avoid default

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is offering Democrats a deal that could help the country avoid defaulting on its debt.

Driving the news: The proposal includes two options, which McConnell laid out in a statement on Wednesday: allowing Democrats to fast-track the suspension of the debt limit using the partisan budget reconciliation process or raise the limit to a specified figure through December.

It’s unclear whether Democrats will agree to either one.

What they’re saying: “We have already made it clear we would assist in expediting the 304 reconciliation process for stand-alone debt-limit legislation,” McConnell said in his statement.

“To protect the American people from a near-term, Democrat-created crisis, we will also allow Democrats to use normal procedures to pass an emergency debt-limit extension at a fixed dollar amount to cover current spending levels into December.””This will moot Democrats’ excuses about the time crunch they created and give the unified Democratic government more than enough time to pass standalone debt-limit legislation through reconciliation,” McConnell said. “Alternatively, if Democrats abandon their efforts to ram through another historically reckless taxing and spending spree that will hurt families and help China, a more traditional bipartisan governing conversation could be possible.”

Between the lines: The proposal is the first sign of movement from Republicans on their position they would obstruct any effort to suspend or raise the debt limit.

That had included enabling Democrats to do so on their own through a simple majority vote.

Behind the scenes: A GOP senator, as well as some Senate Republican aides, told Axios a large part of McConnell’s decision was given Democrats’ fresh calls to temper with the filibuster — the Senate’s 60-vote threshold — to deal with the debt limit crisis.

“The paramount concern here is saving the 60-vote rule, saving the filibuster,” the Republican senator said.”If you compare the debt ceiling, which is raised frequently, to permanently changing the Senate as an institution, it’s not even a close call,” the senator added.Several other GOP senators, including Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) refused to comment on McConnell’s offer and whether they’d support a short-term debt ceiling increase.

The backdrop: The Senate delayed its scheduled cloture vote Wednesday afternoon.

That would allow Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to ask for unanimous consent to pass a debt-limit suspension — which would only require Democratic votes to pass.

This story has been updated to reflect new comments from senators and their aides, as well as the delayed vote.

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