Several Republicans, however, said they did not feel the same urgency to raise the debt ceiling, amid a December pileup of unfinished legislative work. In the equally divided Senate, at least 10 Republicans are expected to join Democrats in ensuring such a measure can move forward absent a decision to use the reconciliation process.
“I don’t think the issue of the debt limit comes up until next year,” Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, said at a press conference last month.
Asked about the debt limit, Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, said, “I think it’s more important to fund the government, and I think that could become a barrier to that.”
Agreement on a government funding package has remained elusive, jeopardizing lingering hopes of attaching not just a debt limitation measure, but a list of legislative priorities. With the funding package remaining the only must-have measure, lawmakers are considering adding a slew of priorities, including a bill to overhaul how Congress counts electoral votes, mental health and medical programs and proposals tax.
After weeks of negotiations, Republicans and Democrats remain at odds over how to split funding between military and social programs. Talks are expected to continue through the weekend ahead of the December 16 deadline, although aides have said lawmakers may pass a week-long interim bill to allow more time for negotiations.
But with top lawmakers hesitant to roll back any flimsy funding deals, a debt-limiting measure is unlikely to do the trick.
While several officials privately acknowledged their grief that Congress might delay action on the issue, Democrats reiterated they were prepared to oppose any Republican proposal to cut domestic spending, especially on security. social and health insurance.
“It’s an incredible thing that they’re even considering going down this road,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, who is expected to become Minority Leader in January. “But if this is a fight they want to fight, to hold the US economy hostage to the debt ceiling, it’s a fight we’re willing to lean into aggressively – and we will win.”
Jeanna Smialek contributed report.