Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Sunday that if congressional negotiators and the White House don’t work out a comprehensive deficit-reduction plan this summer, Congress could vote to raise the debt ceiling for only a few months – and then return to the issue in the fall.
“The president and the vice president, everybody knows you have to tackle entitlement reform,” McConnell said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “If we can’t do that, then we’ll probably end up with a very short-term proposal over, you know, a few months, and we’ll be back having the same discussion again in the fall.”
Leaders of both parties have said throughout the debt-limit debate that they would prefer a measure to raise the $14.3 trillion borrowing limit through at least the end of 2012 so as to spare members the politically unpopular move of voting to raise the country’s borrowing limit multiple times.
Still, the remarks by the Senate’s top Republican Sunday are a reflection of the potential consequences if congressional leaders and the White House fail to strike a sweeping debt-limit deal. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said Republicans will not support any deal unless it includes deficit savings equal to the amount by which the debt ceiling is raised, meaning that if a deal is struck that falls short of the $2.4 trillion necessary to extend the borrowing limit through the end of next year, a short-term extension is a possibility.
Earlier this month, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said Republicans are looking for $2.5 trillion in deficit savings in exchange for voting to raise the debt ceiling through the end of 2012.
“If we can’t get, in this case, about $2 1/2 trillion in real savings, then I don’t think there would be much of an appetite on our side to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion,” Kyl said.