By Robert Donachie, DCNF
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hinted Monday that Democratic leadership will not be as thrilled with the emergency Hurricane funding, government spending and debt ceiling deal they struck with the president as they initially thought.
“Since I was in charge of drafting the debt ceiling provision that we inserted into the flood bill we likely — almost certainly — are not going to have another debt ceiling discussion until well into 2018,” McConnell told The New York Times Monday.
“One of the advantages of being the majority leader is you control the paper,” McConnell said. “I wrote it in such a way that it does not prevent what is frequently done, which is the use of extraordinary measures. The minority leader and his team were trying to get us not to write it that way, but I did write it that way and that is the way it passed.”
President Donald Trump unexpectedly caved to Democrats in early September at the White House, undercutting Republican leadership’s proposals for raising the debt ceiling and funding the government.
The president and Vice President Mike Pence met Sept. 6 in the Oval Office with both Republican and Democratic congressional leadership — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — to discuss the best way to move forward with tax reform and the administration’s other legislative agendas.
McConnell, Ryan, McCarthy and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin were all in favor of raising the debt ceiling longer than Schumer and Pelosi wanted, the source told TheDCNF. Republican leadership in Congress pitched the president on an 18-month, and later a six-month, raising of the debt ceiling, which Schumer and Pelosi refused to accept.
Both Republican and Democratic leadership at the meeting were going to agree to disagree, when the president unexpectedly sided with the Democrats.
The House of Representatives voted Friday morning to pass the Senate’s proposal to provide $15.2 billion in emergency relief funding for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, raise the debt ceiling, and fund the government through mid-December.
If what McConnell said Monday is true, Congress will only be focusing on emergency relief and a government spending bill in December, likely Dec. 15.
“I think I can safely say the debt ceiling and the spending issue in December will be decoupled because the debt ceiling will not come up until sometime in 2018,” McConnell told TheNYT.
Democrats hinted that they could use the debt ceiling as a political tool to force Republicans to make concessions on government spending, shore up the health insurance markets and possibly pursue other legislative ends, like ensuring protections for DREAMers.
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