Some in GOP unhappy with McConnell over short-term debt deal with Dems

After weeks of stalemate, Senators have reached agreement to temporarily raise the debt ceiling, shortly before Republicans prepared to block legislation to suspend the debt limit until December of next year. The agreement averts a possible economic crisis — for now. Congressional correspondent Lisa Desjardins explains the details of the agreement and what lies ahead.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    After weeks of stalemate, senators have reached agreement to temporarily raise the U.S. government's debt ceiling, averting a possible economic crisis for now.

    For more on all this, I'm joined by our congressional correspondent, Lisa Desjardins.

    Lisa, what a week.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, is this deal finally done? Have they averted the crisis?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The deal is done. The Senate needs to vote. We expect that vote tonight to pass this deal.

    All day long, there was complications even over the timing of voting on this deal. But, yes, it does look like we will avert this debt ceiling crisis.

    I want to talk about what's in the deal specifically. It's a dollar figure. The Senate will vote tonight to increase the debt ceiling by $480 billion. That just sounds like funny money to most of us. What does it mean? It means that the debt ceiling will be lifted until at least December 3.

    But because the Treasury does have some extraordinary measures, as they're called, that they can use, there's some wiggle room there. It may be past December 4, after. Basically, this buys about two months of time for the Congress to act again and figure out hopefully a more permanent solution here.

    Now, the timing is important because the Republicans say they offered this deal to allow Democrats enough time to go through the full reconciliation process, which is that 50-vote process. That's how Republicans want this done. Democrats, again, say they don't want to do it that way. So that problem still exists.

    And we will probably be talking about it more in a month-and-a-half.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, as you have been telling us, Lisa, this whole thing is as much about strategy, about politics as it is about the policy here, which is important.

    What are we learning this week about the dynamics of this very closely divided Senate?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    What a fascinating week.

    Up until now, Mitch McConnell was really seen as the master of this modern Senate, but it was Chuck Schumer who was able to stare him down this week. And Mitch McConnell was able to — was backing down.

    As I said, Republicans and McConnell allies, they present what happened this way. They say McConnell called Schumer's bluff. He's offering more time to Schumer to do this reconciliation process, see if he actually takes it or not.

    However, there are Republicans who are not firm allies of Mitch McConnell who say something else, one of those, our former president.

    And President Trump wrote last night this statement as this deal was coming together. That's notable.

  • He wrote:

    "Mitch McConnell is folding to the Democrats."

    Sure enough, Judy, I talked to Republican senators today who openly said, we do feel that Mitch McConnell may have been caving.

    So, this is an issue on both sides for Mitch McConnell, as he tries to keep members together for the next larger confrontation ahead.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Interesting to see the split in the GOP ranks.

    So, Lisa, I always end up asking you this question. What's next?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Well, first of all, we have to pass the bill tonight. That's expected.

    Then the House has to come back into session to deal with it. Then let's talk about the calendar ahead. It is busy. First of all, now these deadlines that are set up, October 31, Judy, Highway Trust Fund expires. That extension was just passed last week.

    Then, December 3, we have two deadlines. Government funding runs out. That's the shutdown we were talking about a week ago that didn't happen. But December is the next deadline. And December 3 is about when we think the debt ceiling will be reached.

    And on top of all of this, Democrats are trying to pass what would be the largest single spending bill in American history, the Build Back Better Act. So it is an important, pivotal and very intense time.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And a very full plate.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Lisa Desjardins, thank you.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    You're welcome.

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