Senate joins the House in kicking the can down the road


Last Thursday, the Senate followed the House’s lead in kicking the can down the road on the debt ceiling. From CNN:

The Democratic-controlled Senate passed legislation on Thursday extending the federal government’s ability to borrow new money through mid-May, delaying a partisan standoff that some analysts warn could derail a fragile economic recovery.

The bill, which passed in a 64-34 vote, cleared the Republican-run House of Representatives last week. It now advances to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

While the measure suspends Washington’s $16.4 trillion debt ceiling through May 19, some budget analysts estimate it will give the U.S. Treasury the ability to meet all federal spending obligations through at least the end of July.

In exchange for temporarily suspending the debt ceiling, the bill requires lawmakers in both chambers of Congress to pass a budget by mid-April or have their pay withheld.

Here is what Tea Party Patriots wrote when the House passed the legislation:

As Washington kicks the can down the road yet again, it is important to remember what Tea Party activists were told the last time the debt ceiling was raised. At that time, we were told to give Congress time to get its fiscal house in order.

What was meant by this was never made clear. One can reasonably assume Republicans were waiting until President Obama lost re-election and/or the Senate was taken over by Republicans. With neither of those options on the table for the next four and two years, respectively, Republicans are out of excuses to offer real debt solutions.

To be fair, this debt ceiling deal does have one positive characteristic: it attempts to force the Senate to get back to regular budgetary order for the first time in four years. However, that should happen regardless of outside pressure – the Senate is breaking the law, after all. In essence, this means the House Republican leadership gave Congress and President Obama room to spend hundreds of billions of dollars with no changes to any public policies.

I’m not sure of the significance of CNN’s mention that the government could spend through late summer with the current deal, but if the government gets the ability to keep spending past May 19, it would be just one more example of how kicking the can down the road on spending discipline in Washington simply does not work.

A total of 34 Senators opposed the legislation – 33 Republicans and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). Here is the roll call. Be sure to call and thank the Senators who stood with the American people.