On Thursday, the US government was caught up in a three-dimensional chess game that was running out of time and trillions of dollars were at stake.
The first aspect was mandatory. Funding the government by midnight to prevent it from closing. In a normal shutdown, hundreds of thousands of federal officials stop paying and many stop working. Some services have been suspended and many national attractions and parks have been temporarily closed.
The second aspect is an even bigger requirement. By the estimated deadline of October 18, we will raise the upper limit of government bonds, which is the artificially imposed borrowing limit. Not paying that bill will see the US default for the first time in history. Speaker of the House, Nancy PelosiWarns that the impact is a “cataclysm” and will cost 6 million jobs.
The third aspect isn’t required, but Joe Biden and the Democrats feel that way. Expand social welfare and pass a $ 1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill to tackle the climate crisis and a $ 3.5 trillion party package. Both are stalled by the split between democratic centrists and progressives, along with Republican enthusiasm to deny Biden’s victory.
Why is it so sticky?
The powers of the U.S. government are distributed across the executive (presidential), legislative (parliamentary), and judicial (Supreme Court and other courts) departments, ensuring checks and balance, but can quickly become confusing. I have.
Their margins for the latter are very thin, while the Democrats hold the president and both parliaments. The Senate will be evenly divided 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris voting for a tiebreaker.Democrats have a margin of 220-212 House of Representatives Therefore, only a handful of asylum is allowed.
Therefore, the comparison of Biden’s and Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal policies in the 1930s was somewhat fancy, as Roosevelt enjoyed the much more comfortable majority to rubber stamp his priorities. Biden is compelling, but not much else.
So, first of all, will the government close at midnight?
No, I sigh of relief. Parliament avoided a partial federal closure on Thursday when the Senate and House passed a bill to retain government funding until December 3.
A temporary spending bill that blocked the first closure in late 2018 and early 2019 will help communities hit hard by hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters, and help Afghan refugees. Provide funding.But as Democrats were forced, it came at a cost Remove language from A bill that would have raised the debt cap.
What about the debt cap?
Senate Democratic majority leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday that “government bond defaults will worsen, as Republican colleagues recognize that government closures will be catastrophic. Should be recognized. “
Experts predict that the United States will fall into a momentary recession, millions of jobs will be lost, interest rates will skyrocket, and the stock market will plummet. Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics, told CNN: It’s completely crazy to even think of the idea of not paying our debt on time. “
This nightmare is similar to someone who charges with a credit card and refuses to pay, but can be avoided by giving the Treasury additional borrowing power above the current statutory limit of $ 28.4 trillion.
But McConnell should pass the debt limit extension with the same budget tools he uses to pass the $ 3.5 trillion social and environmental package, as the Democratic Party controls Congress and the White House. Insisted that.
Democrats claim this is rank hypocrisy. That’s because the move covers spending already approved by Congress, not future investment. Historically, both parties voted to raise restrictions, and Democrats joined the Republican Senate’s majority three times during President Donald Trump’s term.
Late Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved a bill to suspend debt restrictions until December 2022, which is expected to be thwarted by the Senate. Republican.. That means the default threat continues to loom. Traditional wisdom is that politicians will certainly be willing to drive the country off the cliffs. Do they do so?
What is an infrastructure bill? Will it pass?
This is the cornerstone of the Biden agenda, with $ 1 billion invested in roads, railroads, bridges, ports, airports, broadband internet and more.
Thursday The House of Representatives postponed the scheduled vote About the infrastructure bill passed by a bipartisan vote in the Senate last month (19 Republicans voted in favor). But since then, Republicans have withdrawn from the bill in a move to deny Biden’s victory.
Pelosi also faced a rebellion from an influential group of progressive Democrats who warned that a larger $ 3.5 trillion social and environmental investment bill would have to be curtailed until it was finalized. There is.
Progressivists want Pelosi to support the previous statement that both bills would pass parliament together. They fear that when centrists get the infrastructure, it will get colder with greater commitment.
“We don’t blindly trust that these bills will take place in the Senate without being actually guaranteed,” said House Progressivist leader Ilhan Omar.
Pelosi is unlikely to vote unless she is guaranteed a victory. The Speaker of the House postponed negotiations until Friday, giving Democrats at least another day to break the deadlock.
What is a social / environmental bill? Will it be passed?
This is a once-in-a-generation investment that draws the line under Ronald Reagan’s 40 years of “trickle-down” economics and potentially changes the lives of millions of people.
The proposed law will expand child tax credits, establish universal pre-kindergarten education, and create a federal-paid family and medical leave system. It also includes a series of programs to combat the climate crisis and move the country towards renewable energy.
The $ 3.5 trillion plan for 10 years will be paid by tax increases for the wealthiest Americans and businesses. However, centrists are looking for a smaller package, and negotiations on it could last for weeks or more.
It is possible to pass through the Senate through a process called reconciliation without a Republican vote, but two Democratic senators are in the way. Joe Manchin, West Virginia, and Kyrsten Cinema, Arizona are against price tags. Mr Manchin said on Wednesday that spending so much during periods of inflation and a surge in government bonds is a “definition of fiscal madness.”
Biden has lobbyed both senators, but neither has publicly disclosed what they want, contributing significantly to the frustration of progressives. House Progressive Caucus Chairman Pramirajayapal said:
Manchin told reporters Thursday that he would settle for about $ 1.5 trillion. This is less than half of the progressive demands and is unlikely to fly. Therefore, the stalemate continues.
What if both laws fail?
Never bet on Pelosi, who has abandoned Barack Obama’s affordable care, despite internal divisions. But if that doesn’t all work, it will be a political disaster for Democrats in general, especially Biden, and will shatter the “Better Back Better” agenda that ran for Trump last year.
It can also fuel the feeling that Washington politicians can’t do anything. Analysts warned that the Democratic Party would face an overwhelming victory in the midterm elections next November, and Biden’s bid for re-election in 2024 would be tattered. His presidency will almost sink.
The US government has avoided a shutdown, but what happens next? | US Congress
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