After the ramrodding of partisan legislation through reconciliation and the rug pull delivered by President Biden and House Democrats regarding the bipartisan infrastructure bill, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is giving his distinguished colleagues across the aisle a taste of their own medicine. The time has come around to fund the government for the following year, and that old debt ceiling once again threatens to crash down on top of Congress. Is McConnell “throwing a wrench in the gears,” as some put it, when he says that if Democrats don’t want Republican input in the legislative process, they won’t get it – or is he just showing them, finally, that the tyranny of the majority is a double-edged sword?
Time’s Almost Up
The current government funding is set to expire at the end of September, and the Treasury could default on its debts a mere month later. We’ve seen this show before: Either a full spending bill or at least a stopgap measure must be signed into law by September 30 or the government “shuts down.” Sadly, when the government “shuts down,” it doesn’t actually grind to a halt – that might be something of a nice break. No, all the things that annoy those who love liberty still happen – and folks still get paid, even if they do manage to get sent home from work. The only ones really at risk of having their payments stopped are those in the military, and they have yet to be left high and dry for long.
Rather than save the people money – as one might think would happen, at least if government operations actually ceased for a while – the not-shutdowns cost Americans more in the long run. Government funding has become a classic battleground for control over the narrative, as well. When shutdowns occur, both sides try to position the other as the culprit. The party in power, however, usually bears the brunt of the blame, and has a little harder time shaking it. When the GOP rules the roost, Democrats love to hold the budget hostage. When the shoe is on the other foot, well, you can generally expect the same from most Republican politicians.
How’s That Crow Taste?
In this specific instance, however, there’s a taste of sweet revenge for the GOP – and more than a bite of crow for the Democrats. The legislative year began in bipartisan bliss, but that lasted only until the majority decided to tackle the more radical, progressive aspects of the left’s agenda. Republicans loudly protested the nearly $2 trillion coronavirus spending bill, but their voices fell on deaf ears as the Democrats used the process of budget reconciliation to push it through with a simple majority in the Senate. That was in April. All anyone seems able to talk about since is reconciliation.
“Let me make one thing perfectly clear,” Sen. McConnell said from the Senate floor. “If they don’t need or want our input, they won’t get our help. They won’t get our help with the debt limit increase – they won’t get our help – that these reckless plans will require. I could not be more clear.”
Yep, sounds pretty clear. The problem with treating others like garbage when you think they’re in your way is that once you decide you do want – or, more accurately, need – them, they don’t have any use for you.
Democrats want the debt ceiling raised. They also want to pass their over $3 trillion “human infrastructure” bill that has zero Republican support and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, won’t pay for itself like the Democrats claim it will. So, McConnell says, if the Dems are okay with using reconciliation to ramrod the bill through, let ‘em add a debt ceiling increase as well and leave the Republicans out of it. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), however, thinks the minority leader is being petty. “I just hope we can find a way to deal with this responsibly,” he said, cautioning lawmakers against playing games or making demands. That’s rich considering Sen. Durbin’s love of reconciliation – essentially, playing games with the rules to avoid needing to work with the minority. He doesn’t just favor it for the bigger of the two current infrastructure bills – he suggests using it to legitimize illegals as citizens.
It’s unclear as of yet how this will affect – if at all – the two big-budget bills, but there’s one thing observers can probably bank on. The midterms are coming, and the Republicans aren’t going to make life easy for the liberal legislative agenda. For that matter, the Democrats’ refusal to play nice isn’t exactly helping either.
Read more from James Fite.