What to Know in Washington: McConnell to Reprise Debt-Limit Role

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Mitch McConnell returned to the Senate Monday facing pressure from both parties to help negotiate a deal to avert a calamity over raising the nation’s borrowing authority.

The Kentucky Republican was essential to securing all recent budget deals, and this year won’t be different, according to Senate Appropriations ranking member Susan Collins (R-Maine). “He does land the plane—absolutely,” Collins said after a series of calls with McConnell in April.

Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg
McConnell at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., on March 7.

McConnell will likely work the sidelines of a deal while President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) publicly stake out stark political positions over the debt limit.

But the gravitas the minority leader commands as the senior GOP appropriator—particularly after the retirement of longtime Appropriations Vice Chair Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)—puts McConnell in the key role of mustering the GOP votes needed to get a deal over the finish line, as well as clear the way for Congress to avert a government shutdown by October.

  • Plan Today: House Republicans plan to roll out their debt ceiling plan on Tuesday, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) told reporters on Monday. Read more

McCarthy renewed the debate Monday with a high-profile Wall Street speech where he urged the president to agree to domestic spending cuts in exchange for suspending the debt limit for a year. Meanwhile, McConnell emerged from a forced convalescence after a fall and he huddled with advisers on paths to avoid a default.

In his first public comments in six weeks, McConnell echoed McCarthy’s calls for Biden to negotiate. But the Republican leader stopped short of endorsing the one-year extension of the debt limit House Republicans are discussing. He also didn’t back the package of deep cuts under discussion in the House.

From McConnell’s perspective, politically-induced crises that raise the prospect of default and shutdowns are bad for business. Besides threatening the US credit rating and upsetting markets, both could hurt Republicans ahead of the 2024 election where the party hopes to retake the Senate and White House. McConnell has repeatedly sought to position the party as being best at fiscal management, with mixed results. Read more from Nancy Ognanovich.


  • Biden at 2 p.m. gives a speech on his efforts to make child care more affordable.
  • At 2:45 p.m., White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre gives a briefing.


  • The Senate meets at 10 a.m. with votes to confirm two executive-branch nominees and advance a bipartisan firefighter grants bill.
  • The House is in at 10 a.m. to vote on whether to override Biden’s veto of a resolution that would block the administration’s rule defining waters subject to environmental regulation.

More Action on Lawmaker Radars

Biden to Sign Sweeping Order on Child-, Long-Term Care Today

Biden will sign an executive order today announcing a series of actions he highlighted to Congress during his State of the Union address: increase access to quality child care and long-term care, and better support family caregivers.

The order, which includes more than 50 directives to nearly all Cabinet-level agencies, serves as recognition that the nation’s child-, home-, and long-term care system is often unaffordable and inaccessible for many working Americans.

Republicans Say They Won’t Help Democrats Replace Feinstein

Top Senate Republicans said they won’t vote in favor of replacing absent Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) with another Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, signaling a continued halt on most of President Biden’s judicial nominees.

BGOV OnPoint: Congress Weighing Bipartisan Deals on Taxes

The congressional tax agenda this year could include bipartisan deals on popular tax breaks for families and businesses, while the IRS remains under scrutiny over its use of funds to audit wealthy individuals and corporations.

  • Ford’s Credits: House Ways and Means Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.) asked the CEO of Ford for information regarding a $3.5 billion EV battery plant it will build in Michigan and the use of clean energy vehicle credits. Read more

TSA Sees Devastating Impacts, Long Lines if Pay Raises Lapse

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Risks From China in US Crosshairs

US Cites China’s Military Threat as Beijing Spurns Calls to Talk

A senior US defense official will warn lawmakers about the growing risks of Chinese military power, while highlighting China’s continued refusal to engage in high-level talks with the Pentagon.

China is engaged in a “significant and fast-paced expansion” of its nuclear forces and is embracing “rapid technological change” in areas like biotech, “which could be used for purposes including biological and chemical weapons,” Jedidiah Royal, principal deputy US assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, will tell the House Armed Services Committee today.

Taiwan to Buy 400 US Anti-Ship Missiles Meant to Repel China

Taiwan will buy as many as 400 land-launched Harpoon missiles intended to repel a potential Chinese invasion, completing a deal that Congress approved in 2020, according to a trade group’s leader and people familiar with the issue.

Why Taiwan’s Vote Matters, From China to the US: QuickTake

Taiwanese voters will do more than just choose their next president and legislature when they go to the polls in January 2024: they will help set the course for US-China relations for years to come.


  • Philippines Ties: US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Philippine Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual reaffirmed their commitment to deepen trade between the two nations and strengthen ties in the Indo-Pacific, as Beijing seeks to make gains of its own. Read more
  • Macron Controversy: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called on the EU to adopt a common position on China after France’s Emmanuel Macron suggested the bloc should avoid being dragged into a dispute with Beijing by the US. Read more
  • China, Russia: China’s defense minister praised Russia’s Vladimir Putin for “promoting world peace,” underscoring the warm relations between the two nations over a year after the invasion of Ukraine sparked Europe’s worst conflict since World War II. Read more

Other News We’re Reading Today

  • Classified Documents: The Pentagon said it’s started culling distribution lists for sensitive national security information after a 21-year-old with a junior job was charged in the biggest US intelligence leak in a decade. Read more
  • Wounded Teen: Biden spoke Monday with Ralph Yarl, the Black teenager shot last week after ringing the wrong doorbell. Earlier, a county prosecutor announced charges of first-degree assault against the homeowner. Read more
  • Sudan Violence: Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Sudanese commanders and underscored the urgency of reaching a ceasefire as civilian deaths mounted, a US spokesperson said. Read more
  • Florida Wetlands: Florida’s takeover of wetlands permitting from the federal government has provided an early window into how Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) might view environmental regulation as president if he opts to run. Read more
  • Climate Disclosure: The SEC’s upcoming corporate climate disclosure rules face a new legal threat from environmentalists after Republicans and businesses have long signaled they would sue to stop the regulations. Read more
  • Klain’s Career: Former White House chief of staff and longtime Biden adviser Ron Klain has returned to the private sector as a partner at law firm O’Melveny & Myers. Read more

To contact the reporter on this story: Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Giuseppe Macri at gmacri@bgov.com; Michaela Ross at mross@bgov.com; Kayla Sharpe at ksharpe@bloombergindustry.com

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