(Bloomberg) -- Congressional leaders looking for ways around a partisan impasse on raising the debt ceiling are considering procedural maneuvers linking it with a must-pass defense policy bill.

“I don’t know that it’s a probability, but it’s a possibility,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Monday on a conference call with reporters.

Republicans had vowed not to support any increase in the debt limit, but the annual National Defense Authorization Act generally passes with bipartisan support.  

Treasury has warned that the government could hit the debt limit and have difficulty meeting its obligations after Dec. 15, though outside analysts have said the government has a bit more time.

Hoyer provided scant detail and said it was “a little bit up in the air” on how the two could be linked in a way that both could clear the House and comply with intricate Senate rules on how legislation can pass with a simple majority rather than 60 votes needed for most bills. Last week, he had cast doubt on whether such a plan could work.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and GOP leader Mitch McConnell have been conducting private talks on how to avoid the government defaulting on its obligations. But neither has given any indication of progress or where those discussions were headed.

“Schumer has kept that very close to the vest,” Senator Dick Durbin, the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat said. “He’s discussing it with McConnell. I don’t know what it is.”

One possibility may be to include a procedure for raising the debt ceiling with 51 rather than 60 votes in the defense bill. Once that rules change is enacted, Democrats could then pass the debt ceiling without Republican support

A person familiar with the discussions in the House said among plans under discussion is to have the House use one “rule” setting the terms for floor action on both measures that could still allow them to be voted on separately.

The aim would be to accommodate splits within both parties to win majorities for each, so that moderate Republicans could vote yes on the defense bill and no on the debt limit while progressive Democrats could vote no on the NDAA and yes on the debt limit language.

“Again, there are a number of ideas,” said Hoyer, when asked if NDAA and debt could be done in procedural rule, together. “If I had the specifics, I’d give them to you.”

Some lawmakers remained skeptical.

“I don’t understand the contortions to try to figure this out,” Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas said. “I hope that Senator McConnell and Senator Schumer can work something out.”

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