Debt Limit Crisis: Biden’s Habit of Encouraging Bipartisanship Costs Him Once Again

by Eli Mshomi

The partisan tussle is putting the United States economy into a tailspin that can strangle the US government funding in days to come.

As the US government reaches the debt ceiling, the government is about to face the scarcity of cash at a time when the country just started healing from the COVID crisis. 

The debt limit is the upper limit of money that the government of the United States can borrow for the proper functioning of the country.

The government has already reached the magical number of $28.4 trillion, which is the current debt limit of the government. The US spends more than it generates through taxes, which is why the government needs to borrow money again and again.

After days of political tussle, Republicans finally succumbed down and voted in favor of funding the government for the time being.

This has averted the debt limit crisis because not doing so would have shut down the government. The House passed the bill to fund the government after 15 Senate Republicans voted in its favor.

Thursday night, Joe Biden has signed the bill into the law.

Biden's economic agenda is in jeopardy these days as the government shutdown looms. Due to the internal rift of Democrats, they are unable to pursue any economic legislation.

Biden’s economic agenda is in jeopardy these days as the government shutdown looms. Due to the internal rift of Democrats, they are unable to pursue any economic legislation.

 

Debt Limit and Partisan Politics: Biden’s Envisioned Republican Unity Can Make Him Pay the Price

Partisan problems are making matters worse for the Biden administration. While House Democrats passed a bill to fund the government temporarily and suspend the debt limit by December 2022, the Senate Republicans’ refusal to vote in its favor brought Democrats back to square one.

If the lawmakers fail to nip the evil in the bud, the economic drain could be felt by average Americans soon, as most social security programs will be halted while salaries to many government employees could be stopped.

This is not the first time that the Democratic agenda is becoming the victim of the legislative roadblock filibuster.

Democrats right now have two options to raise or suspend the debt limit on their own, even without requiring a single vote from Republican ranks.

The first one is ending the filibuster and voting across party lines to fund the government. However,  this is where Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema put roadblocks.

The second way, and the easiest way, is to achieve this goal using another legislative process called “budget reconciliation.”

Democrats know both of these tactics; however, they are trying to incorporate bipartisan voices in the process for Biden’s envisioned so-called Republican unity.

Senate majority leaders called the use of the reconciliation process a “non-starter” for funding the government.

However, experts believe that Democrats will avert the shutdown at the end of the day if Republicans continue to block their path in Congress.

This is the reason why President Biden has already discussed the use of the reconciliation process with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Senate Majority leader.

Biden’s economic agenda is the only asset of Democrats which they will take in the 2022 elections. So a government shutdown is the last thing they can imagine, as it will hurt their only possession before the next elections.

Democrats are likely to use budget reconciliation as a last resort to escape these crises.

Krysten Sinema and Joe Manchin are likely not to vote for social spending bill in Senate which puts Biden's social safety package at risk of being destroyed.

Krysten Sinema and Joe Manchin are likely not to vote for social spending bill in the Senate which puts Biden’s social safety package at risk of being destroyed.

Democrats Do not Need an External Enemy

But here comes the hack which is troubling Democrats. Republicans are not the only enemies of Biden’s economic agenda these days. Progressive and moderate Democrats are also trying hard to kill Biden’s economic policies in one way or another.

As the government shutdown looms, the disagreements between both the political factions are at an all-time high.

Progressives are lobbying for passing the infrastructure bill and the big social spending bill at the same time.

However, moderates are walking the opposite line, as they want to get the infrastructure bills passed before anything else. This puts the hopes of Biden’s economic agenda in jeopardy, as the long-negotiated bill is about to face a vote in Congress.

But the bigger social spending bill is yet to be negotiated within the Democrats. Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema have already indicated that they cannot vote for the bill in its entirety right now.

So any negotiation will take time, which is also putting the other bills in the doldrums.

 

Final Thoughts

Republicans explicitly said that as Democrats are controlling the whole Congress and the White House, they need to suspend the debt limit on their own.

This is a clear indication from them that they are not going to vote for any Democratic legislation for the suspension of the debt limit.

It is time for the Biden administration to assess this situation and initiate the budget reconciliation process as soon as possible.

Although the process is long and can take a couple of weeks to complete, it is better late than never.

Because if Republicans stick to their rigidity, it is only a matter of time before the Democratic economic agenda will be exposed to the faulty lines amid the government shutdown.

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