Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
October 6, 2021

A  short time ago, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) told Republican colleagues at lunch that he will make a new offer to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) on a path forward to raising the nation’s debt limit, marking the start of long-awaiting negotiations between the two leaders.  As of now, the Senate is still scheduled to vote Wednesday afternoon to advance a House-passed bill to suspend the debt limit until after the 2022 election which is expected to fail.

Earlier today, Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) said that he remains opposed to changing the Senate’s legislative filibuster, dealing a blow to progressive hopes to use a rules change to raise the debt limit. Manchin’s comments come as the idea of a debt ceiling exemption from the legislative filibuster, which requires 60 votes for most legislation, has gained steam within the Senate Democratic Caucus. And moderate Democrats, long viewed as wary to a rules change, indicated that they would support it.  Manchin also said he’s sticking with his $1.5 trillion limit for a tax and spending plan that his party is trying to negotiate, leaving moderate and progressive Democrats still far from any agreement on the larger infrastructure package.  Democrats could change the rules through a series of floor maneuvers with the votes of all 50 of their members and the tiebreaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. They say any “carve out” for the debt limit would apply specifically to that legislation and not extend to other measures. But any move to alter the filibuster would intensify calls to weaken it for other Democratic priorities that Republicans are uniformly blocking, notably a voting rights measure that Democrats say is urgently needed to offset efforts by Republicans at the state level to impede voting by minorities and others.

As this plays out in the Senate, President Joe Biden invited business leaders to the White House for a meeting on the debt ceiling. Among those expected to attend are Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, senior adviser Cedric Richmond, and executives from Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Nasdaq, Intel and AARP.

For today, the Senate is also expected to consider the nomination of Sarah A.L. Merriam to be United States District Judge for the District of Connecticut.

The House remains in two committee work weeks and will reconvene for votes on Tuesday, October 19th.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.