On the surface, Republicans have presented Democrats with a debt-ceiling demand that is unreasonable, but not impractical. According to GOP leaders, the minority party simply doesn't feel like voting to allow the United States to pay its bills, and the task must fall to the governing majority to do this on their own.
Sure, this contradicts what Republicans have said and done in the past. And sure, these votes ideally should be done in a bipartisan way, since both parties are responsible for creating our financial obligations in the first place. But in practical terms, Democrats are in the majority, and if the GOP refuses to govern, Democrats should be able to extend the debt ceiling on their own, just as Republicans are demanding.
That is, unless the GOP launches a filibuster and stops Democrats from doing what Republicans insist they must do. NBC News reported overnight:
The Senate failed on Monday to pass a key procedural vote to advance the House-passed short-term government funding bill as the deadline to avert a shutdown looms at the end of the week. The Senate voted 48 to 50 on the procedural motion, with Republicans opposing the stopgap measure because it included an extension of a debt ceiling.
Before digging in on what transpired, it's probably worth explaining the 48-to-50 vote. With two senators absent — one from each party — the chamber was divided on this vote, with each side garnering 49 votes. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, of course, voted with his Democratic colleagues, but for procedural reasons, the New York Democrat flipped his vote, allowing him to bring the bill back to the floor at a later date.
Or put another way, 50 senators wanted to pass the bill, not 48. At the same time, 50 Republicans — including the ostensible "moderates" and "centrists" — linked arms with their far-right brethren and pushed the United States a little closer to an exceedingly dangerous cliff.
Let's also emphasize that the contents of the bill aren't exactly controversial. At issue is legislation, which the House has already passed, that would prevent a government shutdown, extend the debt ceiling, and fund both disaster relief and Afghan resettlement. Republican leaders have said they support each of these four goals. Indeed, GOP senators have conceded that shutting down the government and defaulting on our debts would be a disaster for everyone.
Republicans filibustered anyway, telling Democrats they not only have to extend the debt ceiling on their own, but also that Democrats must follow a specific legislative course the GOP believes may prove politically damaging for the governing majority.
Immediately after the vote, Schumer said on the Senate floor, "I want to make sure everyone understands exactly what has happened here on the Senate floor."
"The Republican Party has now become the party of default, the party that says America doesn't pay its debts. Our country is staring down the barrel of two totally Republican-manufactured disasters: a government shutdown and a first-ever default on the national debt. The impacts of both would gravely harm every single American in this country. Republicans would let the country default for the first time in history."
This has the benefit of being true. Nevertheless, shortly before the vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered remarks of his own in which the Kentucky Republican accused Democrats of imposing "one self-created crisis after another" on the nation.
McConnell proceeded to accuse Democrats of engaging in "odd tactics" and questioned whether members of the majority party "actually want to govern."
He did not appear to be kidding. McConnell, with a straight face, accused Democrats of doing what he's doing, indifferent to the bewildering approach to reality.
Lauren Duca explained a few years ago that to "gas light" is to "psychologically manipulate a person to the point where they question their own sanity."
The more McConnell tries to argue that it's his opponents, and not his party, who are responsible for "unnecessary self-created crises," the more the GOP leader appears to be engaged in an exasperating display of gaslighting.