It's easy to think the headline implies raising the debt ceiling, but that is a distinct issue.
Democrats and Republicans reached an agreement to extend government funding through Feb. 18, taking the first step toward avoiding a government shutdown this weekend.
With current funding set to lapse at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4, lawmakers will now move to rapidly bring the legislation through the House and Senate. The House is expected to pass the bill on Thursday.
Quickly passing the legislation in the Senate may be more complicated, though. Some Senate Republicans have pushed to attach a measure to the bill barring the Biden administration from enacting rules requiring many employers to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly for Covid-19.
Republicans and Democrats had haggled over the duration of the spending patch, as Democrats sought a shorter extension and Republicans pushed for a longer one. Some Republicans see extending current funding, which was set under the Trump administration, as a way to prevent Democrats from setting new spending levels for federal programs.
Lawmakers will aim to agree to and pass new, full-year spending bills by the February deadline.
Debt Ceiling Reconciliation
One might logically think that setting aside funding raises the debt ceiling, but that is not the case.
Democrats have yet to approach the issue of the debt ceiling other than to insist it be bipartisan.
Republicans, however, insist Democrats raise the debt ceiling alone, via reconciliation.
Flashback October 6
On October 6, I noted Debt Ceiling Crisis Postponed as Democrats Agree to a Temporary Deal
While Democrats declared it a victory, it leaves them in a politically difficult bind. In about two months they will be facing the same fight, and have yet to articulate a strategy to avoid it. And unless Republicans capitulate, Democrats will be forced to set a dollar amount on how much they want to raise the debt ceiling, a number that is sure to be used in GOP ads during the 2022 campaign for congressional elections.
Showdown Postponed, Not Cancelled
McConnell wants to force Democrats to use the reconciliation process to raise the debt ceiling so the Democrats alone are responsible.
That showdown was postponed, not cancelled.
Graham Accuses McConnell of Folding Like a Cheap Suit
On October 9 I commented Graham Accuses McConnell of Folding Like a Cheap Suit, What Really Happened?
McConnell's offer threw threw the ball back into the Democrat's ballpark. Not only that, but Democrats will have no excuses in December.
On October 8, McConnell Notified Biden of the setup.
“Dear President Biden:
“Last night, Republicans filled the leadership vacuum that has troubled the Senate since January. I write to inform you that I will not provide such assistance again if your all-Democrat government drifts into another avoidable crisis.
“Remarkably, even as Republicans saved Americans from his crisis, Senator Schumer kept compounding his failures. Last night, in a bizarre spectacle, Senator Schumer exploded in a rant that was so partisan, angry, and corrosive that even Democratic Senators were visibly embarrassed by him and for him. This tantrum encapsulated and escalated a pattern of angry incompetence from Senator Schumer. It was reminiscent of last year when he joined a protest on the steps of the Supreme Court and shouted threats at individual Justices by name.
“I am writing to make it clear that in light of Senator Schumer’s hysterics and my grave concerns about the ways that another vast, reckless, partisan spending bill would hurt Americans and help China, I will not be a party to any future effort to mitigate the consequences of Democratic mismanagement. Your lieutenants on Capitol Hill now have the time they claimed they lacked to address the debt ceiling through standalone reconciliation, and all the tools to do it. They cannot invent another crisis and ask for my help.”
Democrats Were Warned
I commented then "This debt ceiling postponement to December, especially in light of everything that followed, was a huge win for the Republicans."
Senator Graham's comments were way off base.
Democrats have been warned that they and they alone need to raise the debt ceiling.
But here we are.
A quick check of my calendar shows that it's already December.
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