Democratic, Republican leaders close on debt ceiling compromise as Trump rips McConnell for caving

Democratic and Republican leaders are close to a compromise deal that will raise the debt ceiling, allowing the government to borrow more money and avoiding a potential default.

“We’re making good progress; we’re not there yet, but I hope we can come to an agreement tomorrow [Thursday] morning,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said late Wednesday, according to reports.

Lawmakers are negotiating how much to raise the government’s borrowing limit ahead of an Oct. 18 deadline, as Schumer seemed optimistic that a deal could be reached by Thursday.

According to The Hill, Republicans are seeking a short-term debt limit extension that will be “tied to a specific number instead of a specific day in December.” The outlet added that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters he expected a deal to be done “soon.”

For weeks, McConnell has insisted that Democrats use the reconciliation process to pass a debt ceiling bill on their own, using their thin majorities in both chambers. In a letter sent earlier this week, McConnell pressed President Joe Biden to push majority Democrats to that end.

“I respectfully submit that it is time for you to engage directly with congressional Democrats on this matter,” McConnell wrote. “Your lieutenants in Congress must understand that you do not want your unified Democratic government to sleepwalk toward an avoidable catastrophe when they have had nearly three months’ notice to do their job.”

“The president’s party had to take responsibility for a policy agenda which you opposed. Your view then is our view now,” McConnell added, reminding Biden that as a U.S. senator, he and other Democrats had opposed GOP efforts in the past to raise the debt ceiling.

Later, a reporter asked Biden if he had seen the letter and if he could guarantee that a ceiling increase could get through Congress to his desk. “No, I can’t. That’s up to Mitch McConnell,” Biden responded.

But a day later, McConnell countered with a GOP offer to help raise the limit for two months, which Democrats quickly accepted.

“In terms of a temporary lifting of the debt ceiling, we view that as a victory, a temporary victory with more work to do,” Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin told CNN.

She made her remarks after attending a closed-door session of Democratic senators who met to discuss McConnell’s offer, some of whom emerged to portray the GOP leader as having acceded to Democrat demands.

“McConnell caved,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) following the meeting. “And now we’re going to spend our time doing child care, health care, and fighting climate change.”

Democrats were dreading having to use the reconciliation process because it would have taken about two weeks’ worth of continuous voting on several processes.

McConnell’s change of heart was blasted by a number of conservatives, including former President Donald Trump.

“Looks like Mitch McConnell is folding to the Democrats, again,” Trump said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “He’s got all of the cards with the debt ceiling, it’s time to play the hand. Don’t let them destroy our country!”

In recent weeks, Trump has called on the GOP to use the debt ceiling battle to their advantage, calling it the “only powerful tool” the minority party has to extract compromises on spending and legislative priorities.

“The way I look at it, what the Democrats are proposing, on so many different levels, will destroy our country,” Trump noted in a Sept. 22 statement. “Therefore, Republicans have no choice but to do what they have to do, and the Democrats will have no choice but to concede all of the horror they are trying to inflict upon the future of the United States.”

Fox News host Sean Hannity also ripped McConnell during his Wednesday evening program, calling on the GOP leader to “stop being a swamp creature.”

McConnell, meanwhile, stuck to his guns, saying the deal “will moot Democrats’ excuses about the time crunch they created and give the unified Democratic government more than enough time to pass standalone debt limit legislation through reconciliation.”

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Jon Dougherty

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