So last night amply be-chinned Mitch McConnell proposed a win-win compromise, in which both winners are the GOP (emphasis mine):
“McConnell backed down after Democratic threats of nuking the filibuster for the debt ceiling started to become more real. At their Tuesday lunch, Democratic senators discussed how McConnell’s blockade on the debt ceiling was boosting the case of filibuster reformers. Later that day, Biden, generally a skeptic of filibuster reform, said such a change for the debt ceiling was now a ‘real possibility.’”
“The minority leader seemed skittish enough about where filibuster reform fever was headed in the Democratic caucus that he vetted his compromise plan with Manchin and Sinema.”
So essentially rudderless Republicans would help pass a short-term extension of the debt limit to prevent a default (for which they would be blamed for a world-wide recession) into December, and
Gollum’s, er, Mitch’s Precious (the filibuster) remains intact. What McConnell wants is for Democrats to raise the debt ceiling using the reconciliation process so he can hammer them next year for taxing and spending.
And the Democrats took it, because the deal frees up the rest of October and November to focus on their reconciliation package (Yay!), and the treachery of Manchenema remains (Boo!).
UPDATE 1: Tiger Beat on the Potomac email thingie goes long:
BEHIND THE BACKDOWN — DONALD TRUMP and Sen. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-Mass.) actually agree on something: Senate Minority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL backed down Wednesday when he offered Democrats an extension of the debt ceiling until December. (As of early this morning, the two sides hadn’t finalized the deal.)
“McConnell caved,” said Warren.
“Looks like Mitch McConnell is folding to the Democrats, again,” said Trump.
Much of the MSM coverage this morning endorses Warren and Trump’s McConnell-blinked-first narrative.
“With the threat of a default as little as 12 days off,” write NYT’s Jonathan Weisman and Emily Cochrane, McConnell “made a tactical retreat and announced that Republicans would allow Democrats to vote on a short-term extension.”
WAS IT THE FILIBUSTER? McConnell backed down after Democratic threats of nuking the filibuster for the debt ceiling started to become more real. At their Tuesday lunch, Democratic senators discussed how McConnell’s blockade on the debt ceiling was boosting the case of filibuster reformers. Later that day, Biden, generally a skeptic of filibuster reform, said such a change for the debt ceiling was now a “real possibility.”
McConnell took notice. Our friend Manu Raju at CNN reported, “McConnell told his colleagues he’s concerned about pressure on [JOE] MANCHIN and [KYRSTEN] SINEMA to gut [the] filibuster in order to raise [the] debt ceiling, I’m told. He pointed to this as reason why he is floating short-term increase in order to ease pressure on and push Democrats to use reconciliation.”
McConnell himself alluded to how filibuster reform was the key issue at play. “It’s not clear whether the Democratic leaders have wasted two-and-a-half months because they simply cannot govern, or whether they are intentionally playing Russian roulette with the economy to try to bully their own members into going back on their word and wrecking the Senate,” he said on the Senate floor.
The minority leader seemed skittish enough about where filibuster reform fever was headed in the Democratic caucus that he vetted his compromise plan with Manchin and Sinema, report Burgess Everett, Marianne LeVine and Anthony Adragna.
Democratic supporters of filibuster reform have taken note of how the issue seems to have moved McConnell. “The filibuster is McConnell’s instrument of obstruction,” one Democratic senator told Playbook. “He wants to protect that at all costs. He was at real risk of overplaying his hand as he faced the growing prospect that we would have 51 votes to waive it for the purpose of dealing with debt. He wanted to avoid creating that precedent. Still, would have been better for us to just do it.”
This is the second time this year that the politics of filibuster preservation enticed McConnell to play dealmaker rather than obstructionist. The minority leader backed BIF partly because he wanted to show anti-filibuster Democrats that bipartisanship was still possible. In both episodes McConnell relied on an alliance — sometimes tacit, sometimes explicit — with Manchin and Sinema against the anti-filibuster forces.
The other leading explanation for McConnell’s last-minute offer is that some of his GOP colleagues were skittish about mounting another filibuster against debt ceiling legislation and McConnell needed a way to save face.