Basically, what’s going to happen is this: if the bill passes in the Senate then both the House and Senate will be under the gun to pass a budget in their respective chambers by April 15th. If the Senate does not – and let’s be honest; it’s the Senate that’s the problem – then the Senate doesn’t get paid until they do. The House Republican caucus was generally behind this bill (it’s linked to a three-month extension of the debt ceiling, which is the only reason why it might not have been); Senate Democrats are still kind of mumbling about it for the moment.
As to the vote itself… the House GOP forced enough Democrats to vote for it to allow for, simultaneously: the coveted ‘bipartisan’ label; AND to allow the hardline House Republican deficit hawks the luxury of voting their conscience on a ‘clean’ debt ceiling raise, no matter how high. The Democrats really, really wanted to make this a party-line vote, but when push came to shove they didn’t quite dare to try to force their marginal-district House Members into line. In other words: tactically speaking, the GOP won this one, fair and square.Incidentally, this morning I was in on a conference call with Policy Committee Chair James Lankford of Oklahoma regarding this bill. His major points, from my perspective:
- This bill does not actually violate the 27th Amendment, on the grounds that it’s merely putting the Members’ pay in escrow until the budget is passed.
- When asked about whether the Senate would pass this bill, Rep. Lankford noted that the bill is very simple and straightforward (only five pages long); it’s a clean debt ceiling extension in exchange for a budget passed by the Senate – and that the White House had already indicated that they would not impede this particular legislation. Implied in the call was if the Senate decides that it doesn’t want to extend the debt ceiling if it means also doing something that they’re Constitutionally mandated to do, that’s not exactly Rep. Lankford’s responsibility.
- Rep. Lankford also made it clear at several separate points that he was not discussing what the final budget was going to look like, and that Senator Schumer or anybody else in the Senate was perfectly free to propose and pass whatever budget that they cared to propose. What the House cares about right now is getting a budget out of the Senate: the phrase “baby steps” was used, which may be even more insulting because it is so perfectly accurate.
So we’ll see what the Senate does now.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*I know: it’s annoying that we have to trade a short-term extension of the debt ceiling in exchange for getting the Democrats to do their jobs. Always having to be the adults in the room gets old, fast. But that’s the way things go, these days.