Senate Nears Agreement to Stave Off Debt Crisis Until December

Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, the No. 4 Republican, warned that if Democrats changed the filibuster rule, “they’ll permanently change the Senate, permanently change the relationships that still matter in the Senate, and institute the idea that 50 of you plus a vice president of your party can always do whatever you want to do.

“I don’t think that’s healthy for the country,” he added. “It certainly wouldn’t be healthy for the Senate.”

Praying for Republicans to fold was an even riskier play for Democrats, given the stakes. If, for the first time, the U.S. government could not meet its obligations to international lenders, its role as the world economy’s safe-harbor investment would be called into question. Interest rates would most likely rise sharply, and global financial institutions would begin searching for new vehicles to store money, where it would not be subject to the whims of partisan politics.

“We’re not asking them to blink; we’re asking them to be the slightest bit reasonable,” Senator Angus King, a centrist independent from Maine, said of Republican leaders. “The political gain of this strikes me as low. The loss to the country strikes me as extraordinarily high.”

Republican obstruction on the borrowing limit forced Democrats last week to strip a debt-ceiling increase from a must-pass spending bill to avert a government shutdown. And Mr. McConnell refused to allow Democrats to unilaterally move to a vote.

“Democratic leaders haven’t wanted solutions,” Mr. McConnell said on the Senate floor on Wednesday. “They’ve wanted to turn their failure into everybody else’s crisis, playing risky games with our economy, using manufactured drama to bully their own members, indulging petty politics instead of governing.”

Top Democrats have since dropped their insistence that Republicans join them in bipartisan support for raising the statutory cap on the government’s ability to borrow to meet its financial obligations. They, in turn, want Mr. McConnell to honor his demand that Democrats lift the ceiling alone — either by granting consent to move to a vote or by providing 10 Republican votes to break the filibuster.

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