Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) says he hopes the Senate will pass legislation to raise the debt limit Thursday or Friday, as conservative Republican senators now say they won’t hold the bill up as long as they get to vote on amendments.
The strong support among House Republicans for the deal negotiated between President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has influenced the political calculus in the Senate, and right now there’s little appetite among GOP senators to drag out debate and votes through the weekend.
“I can tell you what I hope happens is that those who have amendments, if given votes, will yield back time so that we can finish this Thursday or Friday and soothe the country and soothe the markets,” McConnell told reporters Wednesday.
The prospective timeline for passing the debt limit bill sped up considerably Wednesday when Utah Sen. Mike Lee (R) told reporters that he would not hold up the legislation — as he had previously threatened to — as long as he gets votes on several of his proposals to amend the legislation.
“I don’t have any desire to hold it up for the sake of holding it up,” Lee told a reporter for NBC News.
That was a more conciliatory tone than Lee struck last week, when he threatened to “use every procedural tool at my disposal to impede a debt ceiling deal that doesn’t contain substantial spending and budgetary reforms.”
He warned a deal that would do little to cut the deficit would “not face smooth sailing in the Senate.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), another conservative who opposes the debt limit bill, says he won’t prolong the Senate debate as long as he gets a chance to amend the Biden-McCarthy deal to cut total federal spending by 5 percent in each of the next two years.
“I’m looking to express my opinion and the opinion of many, many conservatives,” Paul said of his desire to vote on his proposal, which he is calling a “conservative alternative” to the Biden-McCarthy deal.
Paul says Senate leaders will probably give him a vote on his amendment to speed up consideration of the debt bill.
“They won’t do it out of generosity but they may do it out of wanting to leave town for a weekend,” he said.
But he warned that if Senate leaders refuse to allow his amendment to come up for a vote, he will raise procedural objections to the bill, which could delay final passage of the legislation past the June 5 default deadline.
“If we get no amendments, we’ll be here until next Tuesday,” Paul said.
Other prominent conservatives including Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said Wednesday they will not drag out the Senate debate.
“I don’t see any reason to drag this out,” Hawley said.