"Given the nation's enormous future spending challenges, it would be irresponsible to give the President this unprecedented additional borrowing authority without requiring the enactment of significant spending reductions and reforms," the letter reads. "We urge you to abandon this reckless proposal and instead pursue a more responsible course of action that would rein in spending, reassure the financial markets, and help promote private sector job growth.
The letter was dated Friday, however, and McConnell's office would not say definitively whether Members had signed the letter before or after Reid's changes to the legislation, which include the Republican leader's framework that boosts the president's authority to raise the debt limit by constructing the extension of the nation's borrowing capacity as a series of votes of "disapproval."
"Our Members signed a letter to oppose the Reid plan, and that applies to the Reid plan as it stands today," McConnell spokesman John Ashbrook said.
Reid indicated Saturday that he has been speaking with a few rank-and-file Republicans about how to amend his offering to make it more palatable. To clear the first procedural vote on his plan, slated for 1 a.m. Sunday, Reid needs 60 votes. Fifty-three Members caucus with the Democrats, though Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) expressed his reservations about Reid's offering earlier this week and the four Republicans who did not sign McConnell's letter will not be enough to tip the scales.
"I would have hoped, though, that someone would come to us, come to the table, the bargaining table on behalf of the Republican caucus with ideas to improve a proposal already cut from Republican cloth," Reid said on the floor Saturday. "Democrats are willing to sit down and negotiate. My door is still open."
Sources close to both Reid and McConnell, however, said that the lines of communication between the two leaders — usually very open — recently have closed off.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.