In early October, after Senate Republicans backed away from their debt ceiling threats, GOP members said the next crisis would be worse. After Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hurt Republicans' feelings by saying true things, the prospects for a more serious standoff in December grew more intense.
Two months later, the bomb was defused with surprisingly little drama. Party leaders reached a convoluted deal in which there would be a one-time exception to the Senate's filibuster rule, allowing the governing Democratic majority to extend the nation's borrowing limit on their own. Yesterday, as NBC News reported, the plan worked as designed.
The House passed legislation early Wednesday to raise the federal debt limit by $2.5 trillion, sending the bill to President Joe Biden for his signature.... The Senate approved the measure 50-49 along party lines Tuesday.
The only Republican in either chamber to vote to raise the limit was Illinois' Adam Kinzinger, who isn't running for re-election to the House next year. In the Senate and House, GOP members — who expressed few qualms about doing the responsible thing during the Trump, Bush, and Reagan eras — were otherwise unanimous in their rejection of a clean debt ceiling increase.
For now, the issue is off the table for another year: The $2.5 trillion increase is expected to address borrowing limits until after the 2022 midterm elections. I heard some questions yesterday about why Democrats didn't simply increase the ceiling by $2.5 quadrillion, putting off these fights for generations, but I confirmed with congressional sources that this wasn't an option: As part of last week's bipartisan agreement on the filibuster exception, Republicans insisted on a limited increase.
So, we can all breathe a sigh of relief, right? It'll be at least a year before GOP lawmakers threaten to crash the economy on purpose and force us into default, right?
Yes, but as The Washington Post reported, Republicans are already planning their next hostage crisis.
Conservative lawmakers, anticipating the GOP retaking one or both congressional majorities in next year's midterm elections, are already calling for and strategizing around a fiscal clash in 2023, insisting on using the threat of federal default to place new curbs on government spending and reduce the $28 trillion national debt. What they are envisioning is, at a minimum, a return to the brinkmanship seen the last time a Democratic president confronted a new Republican majority, in 2011.
Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas told the Post, "You have to use the tools you have to force change in this town. That's not going to go away until people get their head out of their [hindquarters] and actually focus on spending money that we have and not printing money.... Then we can end brinkmanship."
Oh. In other words, Roy and his allies are prepared to "end brinkmanship" just as soon as Democrats meet Republican demands in the next GOP-imposed hostage crisis.
The candor is welcome, I suppose, though it's jarring to see Republicans admit that they're planning to threaten Americans' wellbeing in the hopes of getting their way.
The GOP doesn't have a policy agenda or a substantive platform, but it does have a promise: A vote for House Republicans is a vote for a prospective crisis that could crash the economy in 2023.