The six-word headline in the Wall Street Journal gets it just right: “Republicans Split on Debt-Ceiling Approach.” That wasn’t the case in 2011, when literally zero GOP lawmakers publicly denounced their party’s hostage strategy, but it’s certainly true now.
We talked yesterday about Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who became the first Republican lawmaker to declare, out loud and on the record, that the debt-ceiling shouldn’t be held hostage for political leverage. The next question, of course, is whether she would stand alone.
The answer is, apparently not. Greg Sargent reported late yesterday:
Reality seems to be enjoying a sudden burst of momentum this afternoon, as more Republicans and conservatives are coming out and acknowledging the debt ceiling will have to be raised. The latest: GOP Senator Susan Collins.
Collins spokesman Kevin Kelley emails me: “Senator Collins recognizes that the debt ceiling is going to have to be raised because the U.S. cannot default on its obligations to pay for spending that has already occurred.”
And then there were two.
Of course, that’s just the Senate. In the House, Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) said on C-SPAN yesterday that his party’s debt-ceiling strategy is “not a good scenario” and raising the debt ceiling is a “mathematical imperative.” What’s more, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) told the Wall Street Journal his party should give up this hostage and instead threaten a government shutdown over spending levels, and Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) hedged yesterday on MSNBC when asked about the possibility of the House allowing a clean debt-ceiling bill to reach the floor.
As we discussed yesterday, for the Republican strategy to be effective, the party has to march in lock step. The moment some GOP policymakers start to say publicly, “Maybe we should let the hostage go” – with others making similar remarks in private – the entire gambit starts to fall apart.
As of yesterday, the Republican plan appears to be slowly unraveling.