We’re on the clock, folks! Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that come Monday, June 5th, the U.S. government could run out of money unless Congress acts to raise the debt ceiling. While the House is expected to sort out its part by Wednesday, the Senate seems hell-bent on pushing things to the edge. And guess who’s leading the pack of obstructions? You got it, the Senate Republicans, who seem more focused on political brinkmanship than averting a potential fiscal disaster.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has voiced support for the agreement President Joe Biden brokered with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. But don’t hold your breath expecting McConnell to rein in his party’s naysayers. Even though the House’s Freedom Caucus has accepted the inevitable, a few Senate GOP members are eager to exploit their power to prolong this legislative dance to the very last second.
A handful of GOP senators, including Utah’s Mike Lee, have declared they won’t simply allow the bill to pass. Instead, they’ve vowed to use every parliamentary loophole available to turn the Senate into a ghost chamber while they waste hours on needless “debate” to prove their point of disapproval.
Lee even hinted at rejecting the progress made so far, suggesting a return to the Freedom Caucus’s original plan passed by the House back in April. That’s not going to happen, and he knows it. But why let common sense stop him from becoming a legislative headache?
And then, of course, there’s Rand Paul. In true Rand Paul style, the Kentucky senator doesn’t want to drag this out with pointless debate. Instead, he’s pushing for an amendment for a balanced budget in five years, a proposal he himself admits won’t garner enough Republican support, let alone any Democratic backing.
In a bout of apparent self-awareness, Paul noted: “I don’t think there are 50 votes. I think about half of the Republican caucus will support mine. No Democrats will support it. But the American people need to know that’s where we are.” Sounds more like political posturing than serving the people to us, Rand.
Meanwhile, McConnell’s Florida foe, Senator Rick Scott, can’t back the bill because, well, McConnell supports it. And South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham wants even more defense spending, even though it’s one of the only budget items set to increase.
There’s a whole team of Republicans who understand that they don’t have to back the deal for it to pass. They also know that any amendments they propose are purely for show. Yet, they are eager to flex their political muscles, regardless of how disruptive they are to their colleagues and, more importantly, the country. It’s a waiting game now to see who blinks first or who values their weekend getaway more than pointless political posturing.
We’re in for an interesting week, folks. Keep your eyes peeled as the countdown continues.