(Bloomberg) Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader who has stayed largely outside the U.S. budget fight this year, will be thrust into prominence just five days before the deadline for tax increases and spending cuts.

After the House of Representatives failed to act and the Treasury Department said Wednesday it will start taking special measures now to avoid breaking the debt ceiling, McConnell’s next move may influence whether more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts begin in January. President Barack Obama is pressing for lawmakers to craft an interim deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff as senators return to Washington Thursday.

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