Congress this week dealt with an impending global economic catastrophe by doing what it does best: not much.
After weeks of staring at market-threatening partisans, Senate leaders struck a not-so-grand deal that raised the debt limit in early December, only two months away. If history is any guide, lawmakers will be in the same fight again—and may even end up with another Band-Aid solution.
The kick-the-can-so-slightly-down-the-road loan deal followed the House’s non-negotiable loan deal last week of a bipartisan infrastructure bill after the promised vote. The delay was meant to blow through the September 30 deadline to keep federal highway programs funded, but don’t worry: Congress bought itself an entire month with a temporary 30-day patch that would allow Democrats to address the deep differences between them. Will give more time to solve. Social security measures that may or may not be in place by October 31st.
It all unfolded just as Congress deferred a government-wide shutdown within hours last week, passing a temporary bill to fund federal agencies by December 2 to give itself more time on 12 annual spending bills. can be given. The fight will inevitably clash with the battle for debt ceiling, the larger social policy bill and the infrastructure law.
Congress is headed for more rocks than Wiley E. Coyote.
The House and Senate have a long history of postponing important matters, making difficult decisions and casting difficult votes until the very last, when it is ultimately and utterly inevitable.
But this current Congress seems particularly paralyzed, given the ideological differences between the Democrats, who hold the least majority, and those opposed to the Republicans, who are set in next year’s elections and their return to the majority. Let’s see a little legislative chaos as the ticket.
“Washington Democrats are proving they can’t deliver,” Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. And the minority leader made the announcement on the Senate floor on Thursday, except for the fact that he was doing everything in his power to make sure he didn’t.
The result is that, rather than strike agreements on pressing issues, lawmakers have become accustomed to agree to disagree, sidestepping politically difficult decisions and forced to choose a date in the future. , when they will be forced to try again, often with the same result. No home or business could have run like that, but for Congress to lean from crisis to crisis is a way of life.
On the plus side for senators, the debt limit agreement preserved the Columbus Day holiday, which includes a Republican retreat scheduled for next week in Florida and other travel planned by the senators. But Christmas is in real trouble.
The loan deal came to fruition because McConnell feared he had taken his debt-limit indolence too far, wandering a little too close to the edge of a particularly challenging cliff.
He feared two Democratic filibusters favored – Sens. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., and Kirsten Cinema, D-Ariz. – will eventually succumb to pressure from the rest of its party if it approves an exception to the filibuster rules to raise the legal limit on federal borrowing in the face of an imminent financial disaster.
And everyone on Capitol Hill knows that a carve for one kind of law will eventually become an occasion for every kind of law. McConnell, who is also deeply in love with Filibuster, knew he had to face that possibility at all costs.
“Their No. 1 priority is to protect their means of handicap,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-MD.
Things are so bad that even the bare-bones debt settlement is barely done all at once. Top lawmakers and their allies negotiated it for hours, and Republicans struggled to get a commitment from their members to clear the way for the vote.
Most Republicans didn’t want to be anywhere near the debt-limit increase due to attack from former President Donald Trump, making it politically radioactive in their eyes. For a time, Republicans weren’t sure they could produce a minimum of 10 votes on their behalf to move it procedurally.
Get a representative. Kevin Cramer, RN.D. Approved by journalists, Cramer launched in extended praise of the increase in the short-term loan limit provided by McConnell. He called it elegant, praising the Senate leader’s cunning in preserving filibusters and depriving Democrats of a powerful political argument against his party. It also averted a potentially catastrophic omission. But Cramer still won’t vote to allow it to go ahead.
“I don’t think I will,” he said.