McConnell Says It’s McCarthy’s Job To Reach Debt Ceiling Deal

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Topline

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters Tuesday he plans to take a hands-off approach to overcoming the standoff between the White House and Congressional Republicans over raising the debt ceiling, saying the path to an agreement rests with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

Key Facts

McConnell said he “can’t imagine any kind of debt ceiling measure” that could pass the Democratic-controlled Senate and also pass the Republican-majority House.

The senator said he can only see a solution coming through negotiations between McCarthy and President Joe Biden, but the two sides seem far from an agreement.

McCarthy vowed he would demand significant spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling as part of a deal he made with a hard-right contingent of House Republicans to win the speakership earlier this month, but the White House has repeatedly said spending cuts are off the table.

McConnell endorsed the idea of reduced spending in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, calling it an “entirely reasonable” proposal.

Crucial Quote

“I wish him well in talking to the president. That’s where the solution lies,” McConnell said.

Key Background

The federal government hit its $31.4 trillion debt limit last week, leading Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to take “extraordinary measures” to avoid a default while Congress and the White House hash out a deal. The U.S. has never defaulted on its debt before, and there would likely be disastrous economic consequences if it ever does. Yellen said she believes the “extraordinary measures,” such as pausing some federal investments, will avert a default through June 5, known as the national debt’s “X-date.” If the debt ceiling isn’t raised by the “X-date,” the U.S. will be unable to pay its bills, likely sending stocks plummeting and threatening the stability of federal programs.

What To Watch For

McCarthy said Friday he agreed to meet with Biden to discuss the debt ceiling, but the White House quickly released a statement saying the two plan to “discuss a range of issues,” reiterating it will not negotiate spending cuts in exchange for a debt ceiling deal.

What We Don’t Know

It’s not clear exactly what cuts McCarthy might push for. Speculation has grown that cuts to Social Security and Medicare might be proposed, but several prominent Republicans have spoken out against the idea. Former President Donald Trump said Friday: “Under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single penny from Medicare or Social Security.”

Further Reading

Debt Ceiling Standoff: Speaker McCarthy Says He Will Meet With Biden For Solution (Forbes)

The Debt Ceiling, Explained—What Happens If The U.S. Doesn’t Raise It (Forbes)

Kevin McCarthy Elected House Speaker—Ending Historic Deadlock (Forbes)

Federal Government Officially Reaches Debt Limit, Triggering ‘Extraordinary Measures’ To Prevent A Default—Here’s What That Means (Forbes)

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