The debt limit has absolutely nothing to do with the reconciliation bill.
There is no reason the debt limit needs to be connected to the reconciliation. This is an ultimatum made up by McConnell and the GOP. They are holding a gun to the country and blaming the Democrats. Same old same old for the Republicans. They want chaos, they do not want to govern, and they know the people following will blindly accept their attempt to blame the Democrats. I’ve been watching this movie for decades.
We really don’t know how people will react - that’s the most accurate assessment. And that alone is what makes this a dangerous situation.
Here’s my thinking on what Mitch is up to:
He has no desire to have a debt limit showdown. Right now, with new voting restrictions, Democrats seeming in disarray and the traditional “mid-term curse,” Republicans are on a glide path to make major gains in the midterm elections. The last thing that Mitch wants is anything that upsets the apple cart and introduces political uncertainty. Which a debt limit crisis would most certainly do. Republicans might win the PR war, but they might not. Why take the risk when things are looking so promising already in 2022?
BUT, there’s no way for him to keep his MAGA members in line, especially the half dozen or so who are eyeing a Presidential bid. So he presents a unified Senate Republican position that they will not support raising the debt limit. For now, that includes even opposing cloture.
But once markets start to tank and everyone gets into a panic about the impending economic catastrophe, he’ll convince ten of his members to regretfully support cloture. They’ll do so saying they had no choice give Biden’s and Democrats terrible mishandling of the situation. That’ll let the bill pass, and they can all still vote no on final passage. And then the markets will stabilize and this will all be forgotten by November 2022.
Of course the risk of miscalculation is high and the potential consequence is crippling the U.S. economy, but that doesn’t seem to bother Republicans these days.
The debt limit can be raised in the reconciliation bill The problem for Democrats is that they have larded the hill up with so many progressive wish list items that they can’t get it passed. They could remove that stuff, pass the bill, and the debt ceiling issue is fixed.
This is a big game of chicken. The Republicans are simply raising the stakes for the Democrats if they fail to pass the reconciliation bill
Debt ceiling doesn’t have to be handled in the same bill as Build Back Better; it can be addressed through Reconciliation as a stand-alone bill.
Sen. Roy Blunt said that what the Republicans are looking for with forcing the effort through Reconciliation is a number. Via Reconciliation, the number to which to raise the debt ceiling has to be specified so that it can be scored for Reconciliation. This will enable them to point to the new number and decry the evil of Democrats raising the debt to some horrible number, all in an effort to pay for what the Republicans have already spent.
The Democrats are trying to temporarily waive the debt ceiling, as was done several times during the Trump administration, and not specify a new ceiling. This cannot be done through Reconciliation.
You lay out a very logical, rational case for why McConnell may fold, but I think this is the part of your post that I agree with the most:
Indeed, I think we need to be very careful about assuming that the rational choice is the inevitable outcome. Moreover, when you consider the fact that the debt ceiling measure is being voted on in legislation that is separate from the stimulus package, there is absolutely no logical reason not to raise it or to prevent Democrats from at least voting on it – yet here we are not even two weeks away from a hard default and probably just days away from jittery markets, and there’s no movement forward on this issue. The Republicans are, on paper, going out of their way to be irrational, and yet they must clearly calculate that there’s some payoff in taking this path.
Cynically, I suspect the payoff they see is that they can either a) force the Democrats to come to the table on spending; and b) if damage the economy to increase dissatisfaction with the Democratic party. McConnell is an obstructionist, which by definition means that he’s someone who’s willing to sacrifice the greater good for his own good and the good of his party, contrary to what many of us would assume or like to believe.
No, the debt limit is entirely separate. It would be a separate bill. The Parliamentarian has ruled that there can be a separate bill for the debt limit and it wouldn’t affect any other reconciliation bill.
Wouldn’t it take the place of the reconciliation bill they want, though? Aren’t there a limited number of reconciliation bills allowed?
Rules allow up to three reconciliation bills per year to address spending, revenues (taxes) and debt. But since these three issues are very difficult to segregate from each other they usually only pass one that addresses all of them.
From what I read, any debt limit reconciliation bill will not limit the plan for the other reconciliation bill in any way. I’ll see if I can find a cite.
Best I could find was this Tweet by Jake Sherman:
Then what’s the problem? The Democrats could pass a debt increase reconciliation bill tomorrow if they wanted.
Wouldn’t it be great to show the American people that the Democeats will work to keep government running even without the Republicans? Or do they think the American people really aren’t on board with cranking up the debt by 4.7 trillion dollars and the Dems are looking for some Republican cover?
Or maybe they keep holding out hope Republicans will find some morals and do what they did without question during Trump’s administration.
That may be what ends up happening, but the Democrats would (rightly) prefer not to use a convoluted process that’s never been used before for the debt limit (which has always passed through regular order). They’d like the Republicans to do what the Democrats have always done – not stand in the way to continuing the good faith and credit of the US. In other words, they’re fighting against legislative hostage taking.
But we’ll see if it works. This may just be what happens going forward – Republicans never cooperate to raise the debt limit under a Democratic president, and the Democrats have to scramble through reconciliation each time. If so, I hope they use reconciliation to raise the debt limit to a few quadrillion dollars.
Any Republican with morals wouldn’t go within a mile of that monstrosity of a bill, or enable its passing in any way. Republicans are going to go to the mat to stop it. And they should, within the rules of the House and Senate. Just as the Democrats would if the Republicans were trying to ram through something Democratic constituents truly hated with a zero-vote margin.
To the extent that Republicans can have any effect at all, it is good reason why such sweeping change should not be tried without a mndate and a healthy edge in votes. This was always an unforced error caused by Democratic overreach.
It’s like this. To do a reconciliation bill that raises the debt limit, Congress must have already passed a budget resolution with specific instructions to change the debt limit in reconciliation. The FY2022 budget resolution passed in early September did not include those instructions, which is what DeadTreasSecretaries called the Democratic party’s “strategic mistake” upthread. You would have to ask Bernie Sanders why, that resolution was his baby. I’m sure some bozo(s) in the party forced him to drop the debt ceiling instructions, possibly Joe Manchin with his “we can work with Republicans!”.
Now, it is theoretically possible to revise the budget resolution, but that requires approval of the Senate Budget Committee which is currently split 11D-11R. Senate rules (according to the parliamentarian) let you bypass the budget committee for the original budget resolution, but not revisions. So Republicans do not need to filibuster a potential reconciliation bill that raises the debt ceiling, they have the raw votes to hold it up in the budget committee.
It’s no surprise that Democrata always cooperate when government wants to raise the debt ceiling, because they always want the debt raised.
Why would Republicans want to raise the debt limit by the amount required to cover the new spending if they don’t agree with the spending? Why would they make it easier to pass that giant spending bill,they think would be disastrous for the country?
Now, in reality Republicans like big government almost as much as Democrats these days. But their ‘brand’ is that they go to Washington to hold the line on big government. Buncha hypocrites, but it’s on brand for them to go theough the motions to hold back the reins.