Manchin indicates 'pathway' to resolve debt ceiling standoff and avoid default

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WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., suggested Monday that there is a path forward to vote on the debt ceiling and avoid what would be the country's first ever default.

"I understand there was an agreement from the Republicans to do a very quick reconciliation by itself for the debt ceiling only," Manchin told reporters, referring to the ability to pass legislation with a simple majority in the Senate instead of the 60 votes typically needed.

"I think that's our responsibility, to make sure that we take care of the debt ceiling. Democrats are now in control, so we want to make sure we do it and do it right," he said. "That pathway has been given. I don't know what's going to be done, but that pathway has been given."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have been holding discussions about resolving the debt ceiling. NBC News has reached out to both of their offices for comment.

Asked later in the day about a potential deal, Manchin said: "No details. We're negotiating."

Schumer told reporters separately: "Hopefully we can come to an agreement to get this done."

The clock is ticking on raising or suspending the federal debt limit. The Treasury Department has said the government might not be able to meet its financial obligations after Dec. 15.

"America must pay its bills on time and in full," Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in remarks prepared for delivery Tuesday, when she will testify before the Senate Banking Committee. "If we do not, we will eviscerate our current recovery."

Congress has a packed agenda before the end of the year, from funding the government and passing a massive defense policy bill to averting a debt default.

The debt limit was raised last month on a short-term basis after a bitter partisan standoff. Democrats had insisted on broad GOP support, citing Democratic backing in previous debt ceiling votes during Republican administrations, but only a handful of Senate Republicans allowed the vote to go forward.

It is not yet clear whether Democrats will lift the debt ceiling on their own, through a vote separate from President Joe Biden's $1.7 trillion Build Back Better bill, or whether will get some GOP support.

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