If Democrats did include the debt ceiling increase in reconciliation, lawmakers would need to choose what the new borrowing limit should be in the legislation given the special budget rules.
Republicans, however, voted to approve increases in the debt ceiling under former President Donald Trump, and McConnell does not mention that under his own leadership of the Senate last year, members approved an additional $1.4 trillion in spending to fight the coronavirus and fund the federal government.
House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat, said last month he wants to move “sooner rather than later” to raise the national debt ceiling.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said last month that unless Congress acts, America could exhaust its ability to borrow this summer, even after the federal government takes steps to buy extra time.
Democrats could include the debt ceiling increase in their budget reconciliation bill currently being debated, multiple sources tell CNN. But the more likely scenario is that Democrats could tie the debt ceiling to a must-pass funding bill at the end of September, which would force Republicans to decide if they’d want to vote to default and shut down the government at the same time. The Treasury Department has several methods available to delay the effects of the debt ceiling limit until the fall, as the fiscal year ends on September 30.
The issue is seen as politically treacherous but critical in order to avoid a debt default. Republicans will undoubtedly use this as a talking point ahead of the 2022 midterms as they try to take back the majority in both chambers of Congress. On Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, is holding a news conference on what he’s describing as “Democrats’ reckless tax and spending spree.”
“I think raising the debt ceiling sooner rather than later is a good idea,” Neal said, adding that the length of the extension would be “subject to negotiation.”
CNN’s Manu Raju contributed to this report.