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The curious reason a House Republican is threatening to resign

Rep. Victoria Spartz is prepared to resign from Congress unless there's a debt commission. But we've already had plenty of such commissions.


Rep. Victoria Spartz isn’t the most famous member of the House Republican conference, but the Indiana Republican is known for one specific thing: She really wants a debt-reduction commission.

Spartz, who was among House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s initial foes during his lengthy fight for his gavel in January, issued a written statement a few weeks ago denouncing the GOP leader’s “lack of leadership.” To prove her point, the congresswoman’s statement added, “It is a shame that our weak speaker cannot even commit to having a commission to discuss our looming fiscal catastrophe.”

Roughly 24 hours ago, Spartz issued a new statement, and this time, she threatened to resign from Congress altogether.

“I’ve done many very difficult things being one woman standing many times with many very long hours and personal sacrifices, but there is a limitation to human capacity. If Congress does not pass a debt commission this year to move the needle on the crushing national debt and inflation, at least at the next debt ceiling increase at the end of 2024, I will not continue sacrificing my children for this circus with a complete absence of leadership, vision, and spine. I cannot save this Republic alone.”

It’s worth noting for context that the Indiana Republican has already announced her retirement plans, and barring a dramatic reversal, Spartz won’t seek a third term next year. Her latest statement, however, suggests she’s prepared to give up her seat before her current term ends, shrinking the House GOP conference by one.

It’s difficult to say with confidence whether her party leaders will try to prevent her from resigning. Earlier this year for example, McCarthy was dismissive of the idea of a congressional commission on deficit reduction. In fact, the California Republican made it sound as if such an endeavor would be a pointless waste of time, answering questions everyone already knows the answers to.

“Look, I don’t need a commission to tell me where there’s waste, fraud and abuse,” the speaker told reporters in February. “I don’t need a commission to tell us where we’re spending too much. I don’t need a commission to tell us we’re $31 trillion debt.”

McCarthy has since moved in the opposite direction in the hopes of keeping his members happy — imagine that — though there’s still no firm plan in place for such a commission.

What’s less clear is why such a commission would matter.

Circling back to our earlier coverage, there have already been plenty such efforts. None of them has ever made much of a difference.

In fact, Ezra Klein put together a good summary on this exactly 10 years ago this week: “Here is a partial list of bipartisan budget negotiations we’ve had since 2010: The Simpson-Bowles Commission. The Domenici-Rivlin commission. The Cantor-Biden talks. The Obama-Boehner debt-ceiling negotiations. The Gang of Six talks. The ‘Supercommittee.’ The Obama-Boehner fiscal-cliff talks. All these negotiations have one thing in common: They ultimately failed.”

That’s true. What’s more, they failed because, in each instance, the commissions asked Republicans to make some concessions on taxes that the party refused to consider.

Evidently, Spartz is of the opinion that one more commission might do the trick and “save this Republic.” Some skepticism is in order.

This post updates our related previous coverage.