Mitch McConnell (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)
Mitch McConnell (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Sunday threw his support publicly behind a bipartisan proposal to raise the debt ceiling that had been gaining steam in the Senate on Friday before it was rejected by Democrats on Saturday.

The proposal, by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), would raise the debt ceiling until Jan. 31 and fund the government through the end of March, while making only minor changes to the federal health care law.

Democrats want to extend the debt ceiling for a longer time period and to pass a shorter-term spending bill, one that would require broad budget talks before a new round of automatic budget cuts hit in January.

In a statement, McConnell said Collins plan would "reopen the government, prevent a default, provide opportunity for additional budget negotiations around Washington's long-term debt and maintain the commitment that Congress made to reduce Washington spending" in the 2011 debt deal.

He called that the "law of the land," a reference to the Democrats' frequent insistence that changes cannot be made to the federal health-care law to resolve the current crisis since it, too, has already become law.

"It's time for Democrat leaders to take 'yes' for an answer," McConnell said.

In the first sign of action of the day, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) spoke by phone Sunday after, according to a Democratic aide.

The aide characterized the call as "cordial but inconclusive," as both sides remain dug in on their positions.