The intra-party disputes among Democrats are getting plenty of attention, but Republicans are having their own internal battle over how far to push their debt-limit brinksmanship ahead of a senseless and catastrophic Oct. 18 default.
So far, the party is standing behind Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) demand that Senate Democrats raise the debt limit through the laborious budget reconciliation process. But the clock is ticking, and McConnell's caucus is "divided over whether to push their fight as far as it will go," Politico reports. Democrats want Republicans to at least stop blocking them from raising it alone. The House has already voted to suspend the debt ceiling through December 2022.
Senate Republicans have three main options: They could agree not to filibuster the debt ceiling bill, allowing Democrats to pass it with 51 votes. At least 10 Republicans could agree to join Democrats and beat a filibuster, allowing an up-or-down vote. Or they could carry on forcing Democrats to take extraordinary measures like reconciliation, ending the filibuster for debt-limit votes, or something gimmicky like asking the Treasury Department to mint a $1 trillion coin.
And if Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) does decide to embark on the reconciliation route, Republicans could make it easier for them, use delay tactics up until the brink of default, or burn everything down by blocking the measure in the Senate Budget Committee. This is where most of the GOP discord is right now, Politico reports.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the Senate GOP's budget point man, wants to force Democrats to use reconciliation and "pick a number" on raising the debt limit — "a specific dollar figure opens the door for Republicans to launch attacks on Democratic incumbents in next year's midterms," Politico explains — but he insists "he doesn't want to string the process out so long that it actually puts the nation's credit at risk," Politico says.
"I mean, I'm not going to be a complete asshole about it," Graham told Politico. "But I'm going to make them take some tough votes."
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who's leading the charge to filibuster any debt limit bill, seems more interested in the maximalist position. "The only end place for this political theater is going to be complete surrender by Chuck Schumer, and he knows this," he said. You can read about where other Senate Republicans stand at Politico.