Joe Manchin Open to Using Debt Limit Reconciliation, Undercutting Schumer

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 27: Sen Joe Manchin (D-WV) talks to reporters about his support for a January 6 commission while walking down the hall of the Dirksen Senate Office Building on May 27, 2021 in Washington, DC. Many Republican senators are opposed to the forming of an independent commission …
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said Monday evening he is open to using debt limit reconciliation to raise the debt ceiling by October 18, undercutting Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) signals that the tactic “cannot” be used.

“We just can’t let the debt ceiling lapse. We just can’t,” Manchin told a CNN reporter. “We can prevent default, we really can prevent it.”

“And there’s a way to do that, and there’s a couple other tools we have that we can use. Takes a little bit of time, a little bit of — it’s gonna be a little bit of pain, long vote-a-ramas, this and that — do what you have to do,” Manchin said about reconciliation. “But we cannot — and I want people to know — we will not let this country default.”

When Manchin was asked if the Democrat leadership embrace reconciliation to raise the debt ceiling, Manchin said, “We’ll do what we have to do, absolutely.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and U.S. President Joe Biden arrive at the U.S. Capitol for a Senate Democratic luncheon July 14, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and U.S. President Joe Biden arrive at the U.S. Capitol for a Senate Democratic luncheon, July 14, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

But Schumer is going in a different direction to raise the ceiling. Schumer has scheduled a Senate vote for Wednesday that will need a total of sixty votes, including ten Republican votes, to raise the ceiling.

“Let me be clear about the task ahead of us: we must get a bill to the president’s desk dealing with the debt limit by the end of the week. Period,” Schumer wrote Monday.

Despite a desperate attempt to raise the debt ceiling, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has stated Democrats do not have enough votes. McConnell believes the Democrats control all branches of government, and therefore Democrats should not rely on Republican support to enable poor leadership.

“Democrats control the entire government—the Senate, the House and the White House. They intend to sideline Republicans and go it alone to slam American families with historic tax hikes and borrowing,” McConnell said. “So they will need to raise the debt limit on a partisan basis as well.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks following a Republican policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on September 14, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks following a Republican policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on September 14, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, the Senate parliamentarian said Monday the reconciliation tactic to raise the debt ceiling was possible, contradicting Schumer’s statement last week. The Senate “cannot and will not go through a drawn-out and unpredictable process sought by the minority leader,” Schumer claimed.

It is unclear what Schumer’s next steps will be after the likely-to-fail vote Wednesday. It seems Schumer may have no other way of raising the debt ceiling than by using reconciliation, a tactic he fears due to the amount of time it will take to complete amid President Joe Biden’s stalled agenda in Congress.

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø

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