WASHINGTON- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Congress is unlikely to relinquish its authority to raise the debt ceiling.
“Getting Congress to give up a tool like that would probably be quite a challenging undertaking,” McConnell said in a response to a question at a news conference on Tuesday as to whether he agreed with President Donald Trump’s suggestion that doing so might be a good idea.
“My assumption is that the debt ceiling will continue and we’ll have to decide when these intervals come along the best way to handle it,” he explained.
Trump last week signed legislation that tied $15.25 billion in emergency assistance to the victims of Hurricane Harvey to an agreement that funds the government until December 8 and also extends the debt ceiling for that duration.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) proposed the deal.
McConnell and fellow Republican congressional leaders opposed the deal but they voted for the legislation when it came to the floor.
McConnell said Congress would not have to again raise the debt ceiling until 2018 because the trifecta legislative package allows the Treasury Department to use its authority to implement “extraordinary measures” to extend the government’s borrowing prowess.
McConnell first spoke of the provision in a Monday interview with The New York Times.
Democrats had hoped that in December they would again be able to force Republicans to tie the debt ceiling extension to an interim government funding bill. The likely absence of that scenario deprives the minority party of considerable leverage.
The national debt has exceeded $20 trillion and will continue to grow as Congress is expected to allocate more money for hurricane relief.