McConnell, Senate GOP happy to sit out debt limit talks — for now
Senate Republicans said they were happy to leave the debate over raising the debt ceiling to their colleagues in Congress and instead cede negotiations to them — at least temporarily.
After a long and difficult year-end struggle to pass the Omnibus Government Spending Package, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was forced to use a lot of political capital to help Democrats raise debt ceiling in 2021. With Republicans taking control of Congress, McConnell and other members of the Senate GOP caucus are not qualified to lead the current talks.
They believe that House Republicans can win concessions from the Democrat-controlled upper house that they cannot deliver.
They cheered McConnell’s announcement earlier this week that Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R.Calif.) would be dealing directly with Congress in the debt negotiations.
“The public is in favor of doing something. … I am glad that the House is continuing to take this on, even though we aren’t quite sure what we’re going do. I believe there will be many senators who will appreciate that,” Sen. Mike Braun (R.I.). According to reporters,
“We haven’t taken the leadership here in order to do anything about this and I think they’re clear. He said, “That’ll be a difficult negotiation over there because somebody’s ox will get gored along this way.”
The Senate Republicans are watching closely the negotiations, waiting to see whether McCarthy can unify his small majority and if that deal is acceptable.
The political reality is a large reason why GOP senators are retreating. Republicans control the House, so they have a greater chance of moving their priorities around that chamber.
Part of it is political capital. McConnell was the leader in talks for many years. The Kentucky Republican used much of his political capital over the past year and a half to pass the Omnibus Spending Bill.
Both deals provoked anger and frustration in the Senate GOP, particularly the fight over the debt ceiling for 2021. McConnell stated in October that he wouldn’t help Democrats raise the borrowing limit and called on them to do it via budget reconciliation. McConnell changed his mind and a few months later, he managed to get the votes needed to make it happen.
Based on this history, Republicans will allow McCarthy to be the chief negotiator and make concessions to Democrats.
“I believe the reason he took that position this year is because he knows that with the Republican House, the Democratic White House you’re not going get anything through the Senate without being signed off by a Republican House. Also, a Democratic president must sign it,” Sen. John Thune (S.D. The No. McConnell, the No. 2 Senate Republican.
“This is a divided Government. Thune said that he believed the negotiations should begin at this point.
The Senate GOP is still unsure how their House counterparts will handle the talks.
When asked by reporters if he was on the same wavelength with the House GOP, Sen. John Cornyn (Republican from Texas) said that he didn’t know what page they were on.
McCarthy pledged to cut spending in return for the raising of the debt ceiling in an effort to win over his party’s detractors. However, the House Republicans aren’t able to specify where these cuts should be made and there appears to be some disagreement among members.
McCarthy, unlike McConnell with whom he served in the Senate, has not made any deals with Biden over the years. On Thursday, he did however tell Donald Trump Jr. that Republicans “won’t touch Medicare and Social Security,” amid speculation that they might do so.
It is still unknown when Biden and McCarthy will have substantive discussions. Biden indicated that he is open to meeting with the newly elected GOP Speaker. However, the White House insists that the debt ceiling cannot be negotiated.
On Thursday, Biden addressed the House Republicans in Virginia, accusing them of creating chaos with their calls to reform the two entitlement programs.
They want to reduce your Medicare and Social Security. Biden stated that this was the truth of God. It’s almost impossible.”
Although the president’s call was supported by other Democratic leaders and members of the rank-and-file, not all believe it to be realistic.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), met with McCarthy Wednesday to argue that McCarthy’s stance was “unreasonable.” However, the West Virginia centrist made it clear that he will not accept cuts in Social Security and Medicare.
Even though the ballgame is out of their control, Senate GOP members believe their colleagues at the Capitol complex can reach a deal that gains support from the upper chamber.
“I don’t think we’re going to default,” Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D. The Hill. “I believe there are enough people over there who understand how important that is.”
Rounds said, “It’s about having a conversation about how we go along the path to reducing the amount we’re carrying debt.” “While they are still trying to figure out what will be palatable for them, I believe there are some people there who would love to have the conversation right now — and this is the best time to do that.”