Rest Up From the Budget Fight, Because There's a Debt Ceiling One Around the Corner

By Elahe Izadi

December 17, 2013

Don't expect the relative fiscal peace on the Hill engendered by the budget deal to last for long. Top Republicans are already looking ahead to the next fight: the debt ceiling.

"I doubt that the House, or, for that matter, the Senate, is willing to give the president a clean debt-ceiling increase," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday.

McConnell appeared to defer to his House GOP counterparts to figure out what, exactly, they can extract using the leverage of the debt ceiling. "I can't imagine it being done 'clean,' so we'll have to see what the House insists on adding to it as a condition for passage."

His comments come after House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan said over the weekend that his caucus, with Senate counterparts, will have to "meet and discuss what it is we want out of the debt limit."

"We don't want nothing out of this debt limit," Paul said on Fox News Sunday. "We're going to decide what it is we can accomplish out of this debt-limit fight."

Congress may not have to face the prospect of raising the country's borrowing limit until March, or maybe even as late as June, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

McConnell, who has been relatively mum on the debt limit in the government-shutdown aftermath, still eyes the debt limit as something that Republicans can use to get something out of the administration and Democratic congressional leaders.

"Every time the president asks us to raise the debt ceiling is a good time to try and achieve something important for the country, and as you all know, many significant pieces of legislation have been attached to debt ceilings over the years," McConnell said Tuesday. "The debt-ceiling legislation is a time that brings us all together and gets the president's attention, which with this president in particular when it comes to reducing spending, is a bit of a challenge."

Michael Catalini contributed to this article.

By Elahe Izadi

December 17, 2013