Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made clear that he wants to avoid a catastrophic debt default when he proposed a solution that would allow President Obama to raise the debt limit, but put a large political onus on the Democratic party.
Now, he and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) are privately crafting a modified version of that plan, which would ease up on the politics, but include some of the spending cuts bipartisan negotiators have identified.
“We would like to see, even if we can’t get a grand deal, that some real cuts be added to Senator McConnell’s proposal and perhaps Senator McConnell’s proposal be modified,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “That is another possibility, not as good as a larger deal, but certainly better than just avoiding default.”
Schumer made clear that a modified McConnell plan is the last-best option — preferable only to defaulting on the debt. “That’s what Senators Reid and McConnell are talking about now,” Schumer said.
While most members and observers have been focusing on the debt talks at the White House, a striking number of principal negotiators have said they could accept the McConnell’s plan as a way out.
Reid has praised the plan, the White House has suggested it would reluctantly accept it, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said “What Leader McConnell has put on the table recognizes that we must pass. So it has that merit in that it says what are we talking about here: We have to pass this. And let’s talk about the others things that are going on.”
For all the hard knocks he took for putting this out there, looks like McConnell was ahead of his time.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.