Update (2130ET): Hours after Schumer and McConnell exchanged blame for who will bring about the end of the world as we know it by not raising the debt ceiling, outspoken moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) went against party leadership and suggested that Democrats should use the reconciliation process to raise the debt limit as Republicans double down on their commitment to vote against any increase to government spending.
As The Epoch Times' Joseph Lord reports, Manchin broke with party leaders, emphasizing the importance of raising the debt ceiling by any means necessary. The West Virginia Democrat told reporters:
“We shouldn’t rule out anything [including reconciliation]. We just can’t let the debt ceiling lapse, we just can’t.”
Manchin, who has long promised that he supports the filibuster and will vote to defend it, was asked by reporters whether he would consider getting rid of the rule to allow Democrats to push through a debt ceiling increase.
“The filibuster has nothing to do with the debt ceiling,” Manchin snapped back.
“We have other tools that we can use,” he explained, ruling, “If we have to use them, we should use them.”
And in a rather shocking turn of events, shortly after Manchin’s brief statement to reporters emphasizing the importance of raising the debt ceiling by any means necessary, party leaders have also shown signs they may be rallying behind this view despite their long opposition to using reconciliation.
In a Monday letter to Senate Democrats, Schumer wrote:
“Let me be clear about the task ahead of us: we must get a bill to the President’s desk dealing with the debt limit by the end of the week. Period.”
Despite his previous opposition to using reconciliation, Schumer here indicates that leadership may be open to the option.
Sen. Dick Durbin said of using reconciliation to raise the debt ceiling:
“I’m not going to say anything’s impossible.”
We can only presume that Chuck and Nancy finally read what Nancy said 3 years ago and faced reality as the 'majority'.
The market won't wait too much longer...
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Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has urged President Joe Biden to work with Congressional Democrats to raise the debt ceiling on their own and avoid an October 18th (or so) default.
In a Monday letter, McConnell said he's concerned "our nation is sleepwalking toward significant and avoidable danger because of confusion and inaction from the Speaker of the House and the Senate Democratic Leader concerning basic governing duties."
McConnell then reminds Biden that Republicans have spent nearly three months stating that Democrats will need to raise the debt limit by themselves - via a budgetary process known as reconciliation, as "your party has chosen to pursue staggering, "transformational" spending through unprecedented use of the party-line reconciliation process."
"Republicans' position is simple. We have no list of demands. For two and a half months, we have simply warned that since your party wishes to govern alone, it must handle the debt limit alone as well."
Stating the obvious, McConnell points out that "Senate Democrats do not need Republican cooperation in any shape or form to o their job," adding "Democrats do not need our consent to set a vote at 51 [via reconciliation] instead of 60."
At the end of the letter, McConnell 'respectfully' asks Biden to "engage directly with Congressional Democrats on this matter."
My letter to President Biden this morning on congressional Democrats’ duty to handle the debt limit: pic.twitter.com/U3G9QMPJwY— Leader McConnell (@LeaderMcConnell) October 4, 2021
President Biden on Monday ignored McConnell's plea - saying in Monday remarks that he can't guarantee that the US won't breach the debt ceiling, and that it's 'up to McConnell' at this point.
REPORTER: "Can you guarantee that the U.S. will not reach the debt ceiling?"— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) October 4, 2021
BIDEN: "No, I can’t. That’s up to Mitch McConnell." pic.twitter.com/rYK6fF0f2B
Biden pleaded with McConnell and the GOP leadership to give it a rest and just pass the bill, doing everything in his power to try and tag the GOP with responsibility for the holdup.
"If you don't want to help save the country, get out of the way," Biden said.
But the message that markets heard, loud and clear, was Biden confirming that, as of Monday, there's no guarantee that the debt ceiling will be raised in time to prevent a breach or even a default.
Hammering again on the GOP's alleged obstructionism, Biden insisted that they "need to stop playing Russian roulette with the American economy" and hold a vote on the Senate bill as quickly as possible this week. He also warned that these debt-ceiling standoffs hurt ordinary Americans.
"Let the Democrats vote to raise the debt ceiling this week...the House has already done it...it's sitting in the Senate, waiting [for them] to pass it. Let us vote and end the mess, we have got to get this done," Biden said.
"We can do it this week, just get out of the way and let us pass it".
In the Q&A, Biden was asked about the McConnell letter, which he said he saw just before walking out to speak. He said he plans to meet with McConnell on the matter: "I plan on talking to Mitch about it, he and I have been down this road before...and I hope we can have some honest conversation about what he's proposing."
When asked by one reporter if Biden would agree to reconciliation if talks with McConnell go south, he stood firm and insisted that he couldn't commit to using it, even if it were the only option.
Put another way: the game of political chicken between Dems and the GOP continues.
Democrats have been unwilling to pursue reconciliation to raise the debt ceiling - a staggering position to take three years after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) chided Republicans for refusing to use reconciliation to avoid a government shutdown.
This is the first time in recent memory that a government shutdown has been possible when one party — one party — has controlled the White House, House, & Senate. The Republicans own that. #DoYourJob— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 18, 2018
Let’s be very clear: the reason Congress is facing another stop-gap spending bill is because of @HouseGOP & @SenateGOP incompetence. They must stop governing from manufactured crisis to crisis, & work with Dems to pass the many urgent priorities of the American people. #DoYourJob— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) February 6, 2018
Yet now that the shoe is on the other foot, Democrats are taking reconciliation off the table.