Last week’s fold on DHS funding was, apparently, only the first is a series of events designed to erode America’s flailing confidence in the new, Republican Congress’s ability to achieve any marked change in how business is done in Washington.
As we gear up for discussions on the deb ceiling (the one-year debt ceiling “holiday” expires within the week), we find that Congressional leadership – specifically Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell – fresh off the three-month budget ordeal that netted Republicans exactly nothing, has already planned to forgo any “extraordinary measures” that would give them a better negotiating position on raising the debt ceiling.
Republicans will raise the government’s borrowing limit without threatening a default, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell guaranteed Sunday, placating the markets but potentially surrendering the party’s leverage as Congress gears up for another debt showdown.
The current debt-ceiling holiday, to which Congress agreed a year ago, expires Sunday, starting the clock on debate and sending the Treasury Department scrambling to tap into its “extraordinary measures” to keep from breaching the limit…Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said on the CBS program “Face the Nation” on Sunday that Republicans may try to attach some of their priorities to the debate but won’t force another shutdown showdown as it has in the past.
“I made it very clear after the November election that we’re certainly not going to shut down the government or default on the national debt. We will figure some way to handle that. And, hopefully, it might carry some other important legislation that we can agree on in connection with it,” he said.
I suppose agreeing to rein in some of the more aggressive factions in your party might carry its own weight in negotiations, especially with the Democratic leadership currently in place, and one could always chalk up the spinelessness to the burgeoning failure the Republican legislature faces when any bill they pass ultimately ends up on Barack Obama’s desk. But there’s something extra disheartening about saying out loud, on a Sunday morning talk show, that all truly tough talk is off the table.
This may, of course, be McConnell and Boehner’s way of “paying back” conservatives in the House and Senate for throwing a wrench into the DHS deal, as well. Boehner has used some old school legislative tactics on bills like DHS, threatening extreme measures in order to get a more acceptable compromise, not realizing that legislative compromise isn’t always in the best interests of, say, potential 2016 Presidential candidates. When those tactics are soundly rejected, he seems to take it personally, thus birthing this new and exciting “tactic:” compromising from the start.
Whichever explanation proves to be the correct one, the end result is the same: without any real leverage on the debt ceiling, the deal will be unfavorable. Which is probably why everyone tends to hate Congress in the first place.