Blame won’t pay the bills. Congress needs to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling.


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Brinkmanship is the new standard in Congress. Like college students (and, frankly, sometimes journalists too) with a mission to accomplish, the real work often doesn’t begin until the pressure of a deadline arrives.

This is not the best way to produce an article or a story, and it is certainly not the best way to govern.

Yet here we are again, with a heavy dose of political maneuvering thrown into the mix.

If Congress does not pass a spending measure by Thursday, much of the federal government would be forced to shut down. For those who might say “well the federal government is a waste of money anyway,” remember the government provides essential services and is made up of our neighbors, friends and family who work for a myriad of people. government agencies. When these workers are not paid and those services are not provided, there is a ripple effect throughout our economy.

Moreover, if Congress does not vote to raise the debt ceiling by mid-October, the U.S. government maybe not able pay his bills on time, sending again large ripples by our economy. By the way, these loans cover past government spending. Raising the debt ceiling ensures that the United States can continue to repay the debt it has already accumulated; it’s not about approving future spending (it’s a separate fight).

Rather than move swiftly to resolve these two looming issues, Congressional leaders remain determined to score political points, essentially accusing the other political party of failing to take action.

Simply put, Congress must pass a spending plan, called a continuing resolution, to fund the government going forward. By the way, Congress really should pass supply bills through a so-called regular order. But, Congress is so dysfunctional that the entire budgeting process has been largely set aside in favor of ongoing resolutions, which maintain existing funding for a set period of time.

Congress must also raise the debt ceiling, as it has 17 times in the last 20 years, with Democrats and Republicans in charge of the House and Senate, and the White House.

A bill to do both passed in the House last week on a 220-211 vote, with Democrats for and Republicans against. The bill, which would extend government funding until December 3 and increase the debt ceiling until the end of 2022, also includes more than $ 6 billion to help resettle Afghan refugees in America and over $ 28 billion for communities affected by recent natural disasters.

The bill did not advance in the Senate on Monday when all Republicans in the chamber voted against starting consideration of the measure. Republicans argue that only Democrats should raise the debt ceiling, with the spurious argument that Democrats are responsible for raising US debt. During its four years, the Trump administration has added nearly $ 8 trillion debt, in large part thanks to the tax cuts in 2017. This is the third biggest increase, relative to the size of the economy, of any president.

This debate is further clouded by the fact that Republicans associate the increase in the debt ceiling with the Democrats’ proposal of $ 3.5 trillion in spending on a host of initiatives, including lowering child care costs. , university and health care fees and the promotion of clean energy and workforce training. This Rebuild better plan deserves a lot of debate, but that is not the reason for the necessary increase in the debt ceiling.

There is another political posture behind the Republican decision to push Democrats to raise the debt ceiling themselves. If an increase in the debt ceiling is made as part of a budget measure that only requires 50 votes (plus one from the vice president) to pass, fiscal rules demand that the debt ceiling be raised to a certain number – say $ 40 trillion (the national debt is currently just over $ 28 trillion) – not on a specific date. You can imagine the ads Republicans would create to criticize Democrats for approving so much debt. Therefore, the Democrats’ efforts to ensure that Republicans share responsibility for growing debt, which is justified.

The easy answer to this deadlock is to break the measure in half, with a quick vote on a continuing resolution by Thursday. The debt ceiling debate would be postponed until next month. It won’t take anything away from politics, but it does give lawmakers a chance to do their job before they come to the brink. Twice.

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