Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., blocked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in his bid to bypass a GOP filibuster and raise the debt ceiling with a simple majority vote on Tuesday afternoon.
Schumer asked the Senate for unanimous consent to lower the voting threshold to 50 votes for a standalone debt ceiling bill. McConnell objected to Schumer's request, scuttling the effort and forcing Democratic leaders to seek another path to raise the limit without Republican support.
"The Democratic Leader knew this request would fail," McConnell said on the Senate floor. "There is no chance the Republican Conference will go out of our way to help Democrats conserve their time and energy so they can resume ramming through partisan socialism as fast as possible."
McConnell's move came after other Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said they would object to the request.
"There is no universe in which I am going to consent to lower the threshold and make it easier for him to do so. He's playing games," Cruz told reporters. "He knows he's playing games. The games aren't going to work."
Earlier this week, Republicans blocked debate on legislation that bundled a debt-ceiling hike with stopgap government funding and hurricane relief. Top Republicans say they will not cast votes to raise the debt ceiling, arguing an open-ended suspension would facilitate partisan spending proposals favored by Democrats.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin said the U.S. would run out of money to cover its debt obligations by Oct. 18 if the debt ceiling is not lifted.
GOP lawmakers are attempting to force Democrats to add language suspending the borrowing limit to President Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending bill. Passing a debt ceiling measure like that through budget reconciliation would require Democrats to set a specific number for the hike.
Schumer and other Democrats have indicated they don’t view passing a debt ceiling hike through the reconciliation process as an option.
"Going through reconciliation is risky to the country and is a non-starter," Schumer said at a press conference.