WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday told Democrats he would allow an emergency debt limit extension into December, edging back from a perilous standoff by offering a potential path to avoid a federal default.
A procedural vote on legislation that would suspend the debt limit for two years was abruptly delayed, and the Senate recessed so lawmakers could discuss next steps.
“This 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,” McConnell said.
It also will allow Republicans to avoid the blame they would have gotten from some quarters for blocking a vote on the longer extension.
Earlier Wednesday, President Joe Biden enlisted top business leaders to push for immediately suspending the debt limit, saying the approaching Oct. 18 deadlines created the risk of a historic default that would be like a “meteor” that could crush the economy and financial markets.
At a White House event, the president shamed Republican senators for threatening to filibuster any suspension of the $28.4 trillion cap on the government’s borrowing authority. He leaned into the credibility of corporate America — a group that has traditionally been aligned with the GOP on tax and regulatory issues — to drive home his point as the heads of Citi, JP Morgan Chase and Nasdaq gathered in person and virtually to say the debt limit must be lifted.
“It’s not right and it’s dangerous,” Biden said of the resistance by Senate Republicans. “So let’s end this mess and vote today.”
Business leaders echoed Biden’s points about needing to end the stalemate as soon as possible, though they sidestepped the partisan tensions in doing so. Each portrayed the debt limit as an avoidable crisis.
“We just can’t wait to the last minute to resolve this,” said Jane Fraser, CEO of the bank Citi. “We are, simply put, playing with fire right now, and our country has suffered so greatly over the last few years. The human and the economic cost of the pandemic has been wrenching, and we don’t need a catastrophe of our own making.”
The financial markets have been yet to fully register the drama in Washington, though there are signs that they are getting jittery, said Adena Friedman, CEO of the Nasdaq stock exchange.
Stock prices rose after