Mitch McConnell ignored angry threats by Donald Trump by deciding to pursue a debt-ceiling deal with Democrats
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Mitch McConnell is seeking a debt-ceiling deal with Democrats, something Trump tried to stop.
The former president has accused McConnell of empowering Democrats by seeking a deal.
Trump has frequently sought to undermine McConnell in the wake of January 6.
Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was once Donald Trump's key Senate ally — but he now finds himself the target of frequent attacks by the former president.
The rift goes back to the January 6 Capitol insurrection, when McConnell blamed Trump for the unrest.
And the latest battleground is the standoff over the US debt ceiling, where angry threats and instructions from Trump have failed to change McConnell's approach.
Under Senate rules, a vote is necessary to authorize the level of borrowing needed for the US government to continue running. A deal must be struck by December 15 to avoid the US risking a catastrophic debt default.
McConnell this week agreed to a deal with Democrats that would employ a complicated maneuver to solve the issue by December 15, lending them GOP support briefly to overcome the filibuster, then leaving them to proceed alone.
The approach puts him at odds with the scorched-earth policy Trump has called on McConnell to adopt.
The former president has called on McConnell to strike no further deals with Democrats on the debt ceiling. Trump has accused McConnell of giving Democrats breathing room in which to pass big spending bills, arguing that without McConnell's help they would have been too preoccupied with the debt-ceiling crisis.
"He could have won it all using the Debt Ceiling—they were ready to fold. Now the Democrats have a big victory and the wind at their back," he said in a statement attacking McConnell in November, referring to a temporary debt-ceiling deal McConnell struck with Democrats in October.
The former president's words are being heeded by his allies in the Senate, with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas on Tuesday remarking: "I don't think Republicans should be facilitating adding trillions in debt."
Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, another member of the hard-right faction, remarked in a statement that the maneuver "would neuter the Senate. IT IS AKIN TO 'NUKING THE FILIBUSTER!'"
The opposition from the far right of the GOP Senate caucus likely won't be enough to scupper McConnell's plan, as he needs only 10 Republicans to push it through.
The minority leader last week faced down a rebellion by the Senate GOP's far right over a government funding bill, showing his grip over the party. He talked rebels out of shutting down the government as a last-minute attempt to defund President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate.
But the battle between Trump and McConnell will likely continue to play out in the new year.