There’s little time to waste. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned Congress on Tuesday that lawmakers must raise the debt ceiling by around Oct. 18 to avoid a debt default. That means Democrats would need to start moving on the time-consuming reconciliation process in the coming days to avoid a default, should they choose that path over continuing confrontation with Republicans.
On Tuesday, Schumer plans to ask Senate Republicans to allow a standalone vote on the debt limit at a majority threshold rather than the typically needed 60 votes, though the GOP is unlikely to accept. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has pushed Democrats to raise the debt limit on their own.
“If the Republicans really want to see the debt ceiling raised without providing a single vote, I’m prepared to hold that vote. I can’t imagine the Republican leader would object to his own request,” Schumer said.
Senate Democrats also might need to cancel a mid-October recess to raise the debt ceiling on their own via reconciliation, which allows the party to avoid a GOP filibuster but would require negotiations with the parliamentarian and some degree of cooperation from Republicans. McConnell confidently predicted that Democrats will raise the debt ceiling “because we always do,” though typically both parties support an increase.
“I know the country is not going to default. I know they have the votes to do this,” McConnell said in an interview. “I don’t have any doubt that they will take care of this.”
But Schumer has more plans in mind for filleting Republicans as the party of “default” and may force them to vote a second time on the House-passed funding and debt proposal they blocked on Monday. House leaders are also considering passing a spending bill that leaves out the debt limit and sending the Senate a stand-alone debt limit bill in the coming days. That bill is expected to lift the debt limit through the November midterms next year, according to two Democrats familiar with the plan.
Pelosi told Democrats that “there might be a timely vote” on the debt limit as soon as this week and asked if there’s anyone in her caucus “who will not vote to preserve the full faith and credit in the United States,” according to Democratic sources.