WASHINGTON — A day after allowing action to lift his party’s blockade and temporarily raise the federal debt limit, Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, warned President Biden on Friday that he would have no chance of doing so again. The intention is not, to revive an earlier threat—a federal default sometime in December.
In a phone call with Mr Biden, Mr McConnell, who worked hard to scuttle the votes needed to crack his party’s filibuster against the debt limit increase – and voted himself to do so – said that Democrats should not expect this kind of help in the future, according to a Senate Republican aide briefed on the talks.
“I will not be a party to any future attempt to minimize the consequences of Democratic mismanagement,” McConnell wrote in a scathing letter that the aide said he told the president during the call. “Your lieutenants on Capital Hill now have time to claim they lack to address the debt ceiling.”
The Senate on Thursday passed a bill to increase the statutory limit on federal borrowing to $480 billion, which the Treasury Department said will last until at least December 3. Republicans opposed it en masse, but 11 of them, including Mr. McConnell, broke away. Ranked to provide the 60 votes needed to proceed from a filibuster.
The measure is expected to be approved by the House next week before the October 18 deadline, when the Treasury Department said the government would no longer be able to borrow to meet its obligations under the current law.
Mr McConnell, former President Donald J. Trump and some of his Republican allies have come under criticism for agreeing to vote for an increase in the debt limit, after insisting for weeks that his party would never do so. He did so under mounting pressure from an emerging government default and as Democrats gathered around the idea of changing filibuster rules to allow unilateral borrowing limits increases.
The letter, which the aide said he had sent to all Republican senators, appeared intended to at least placate the anger of his aides.
Mr McConnell has insisted that Democrats use a complicated and mysterious budget process known as reconciliation to raise the debt limit, which would protect it from a filibuster and allow it to pass without a Republican vote. will allow. Democrats, who are already using that process to push a massive multitrillion-dollar domestic policy package, have declined, arguing it would be too time-consuming and cumbersome.
The Republican leader argued this week that by allowing short-term escalation to go ahead, he was bluffing Democrats, giving them plenty of time to use conciliation to implement a long-term solution.
But many Republicans bowed out anyway, and party leaders were forced to spend hours looking for votes. It was an odd turn for Republicans, who had hoped to use the debt limit drama to score political points against Democrats, but found themselves bitterly divided.
“I don’t understand why we’re turning here,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said on Thursday. “It’s just a mistake.”
Democrats point to McConnell’s move as evidence that Republicans can – and should – at least allow him to raise the debt limit through normal procedures.
In a speech on Thursday that angered many Republicans, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, declared victory.
“Today’s vote is proof that the debt ceiling can be addressed without going through a reconciliation process – as Democrats have been saying for months,” Mr Schumer said. “The solution is for Republicans to either join us in raising the debt limit, or go out of the way to let the Democrats address the debt limit themselves.”
Mr McConnell captured Mr Schumer’s comments in his letter, calling it a “partisan, angry and corrosive” speech and another reason for the Republican vote to be withdrawn in the coming months.
“This childish behavior only alienated the Republican members who helped facilitate this short-lived patch,” McConnell wrote. “It has made the well even more toxic.”