So far, senators have refused to budge from their position of letting Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden decide how to handle the debt limit.
Even after Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen warned on Monday that the government might not be able to pay its bills on time as early as June 1, several senators said there was still time to reach a compromise and dismissed the need for a temporary fix.
Budget Chairman Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, stated, “I think the longer that debt limit sword of Damocles hangs over the country’s economy and frightens investors and causes uncertainty with projects and investments, the worse off we are.”
Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., said Congress and the White House were always going to go down to the wire with negotiations, regardless of the “x date” falling sooner than many expected.
“At some point they have to make it to a deal,” he said. “And a deal can come together very quickly once they decide that neither side gets an advantage by waiting or stalling any longer. Do I think it’s going to happen anywhere in the next day or so? The answer is no. Will it be closer to the deadline so that each side can say that they worked as hard as they could? Yes.”
Still, the mood could shift if around the end of May there’s movement toward agreement but no deal yet.
House Democrats are preparing a discharge petition to allow moderate Republicans to join them in forcing a compromise to the floor if needed, and some Senate Democrats acknowledged a short-term fix would be preferable to breaching the debt limit.