Politics

Senate postpones economic catastrophe, Biden and Schumer need to crack down to avert it entirely

That echoed Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s remarks after the vote. “Republicans played a dangerous and risky partisan game, and I am glad that their brinkmanship did not work,” Schumer said after the vote. “What is needed now is a long-term solution so we don’t go through this risky drama every few months.”

But the drama will recur in a few months, because this extension lasts just until Dec. 3. Judging by the obnoxious theatrics on display Thursday, Republicans will not make the process any easier. It’s going to get even worse.

Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who revels in being the most hated person in the Senate, will make sure of it. He in fact forced that cloture vote Thursday. McConnell’s plan was to forego the filibuster and just let Democrats use a simple majority vote to pass the filibuster, with help from Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and possibly a few other Republicans. Cruz refused to agree, demanding the filibuster and a recorded vote.

“We were on the verge of victory, but we turned that victory into defeat,” he said on the floor Thursday. He called it a “strategic mistake by our leadership.” He was echoing the former guy, still the leader of the Republicans even though he sent a murderous mob after them. Trump blasted McConnell for “folding to the Democrats,” and lobbied Republicans to block “this terrible deal.” Never mind that taking this fight down to the last minute would further destabilize already shaky financial markets and the larger economy. Trump and the majority of Republicans still see permanent victory in the destruction of the republic as we know it.

They’re getting help. In the case of both the debt ceiling and the other major work ahead of the Senate, passing the budget reconciliation bill for President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan, there is a single glaring obstacle to sanity: the combined efforts of Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Somehow, they will have to be broken. Manchin is making unacceptable demands to derail Biden’s plans for a more equitable and just human infrastructure and Sinema is simply preening and posturing, letting no one know what she wants and reportedly even refusing to engage with Biden, not returning White House calls.

The Democrats could have simply passed a debt ceiling suspension—they could in fact have ended the debt ceiling as an issue going forward—quite elegantly by including the debt ceiling among the 161 filibuster carve-outs that already exist. But Manchin said he wouldn’t do that. He insisted after Thursday’s debacle that he still wouldn’t do that.

Sinema, as usual, pulled a disappearing act and did it in “bipartisan” fashion, so no one knows how she viewed any of this.

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Supposedly, one of the primary reasons McConnell ultimately capitulated to allow Schumer to have this vote instead of continuing to force Democrats to raise the debt ceiling through reconciliation was to take pressure off of Manchin and Sinema on nuking the filibuster. McConnell seems to be flirting with the idea of offering safe haven for the two, eyeing a return to the majority if they should decide to flip parties. That doesn’t seem like such a popular idea among the rest of the Republican conference.

The thing that has been made most clear in this week’s farcical display from the Senate, including the promise of several more weeks of toxic and destructive posturing, is that Manchema is going to have to be dealt with. Biden complaining about how they just won’t work with him is not going to do the trick. It’s just going to embolden Republicans.

They need to start feeling pressure from all sides. Every Democratic senator needs to unite behind filibuster reform and to start putting that pressure on them. Biden is the president. Schumer is the majority leader. They hold the reins on party money. They need to start leaning on the major donors to the two to stop the flow of rewards. They need every lobbyist of every interest group to know that enabling the two in their obstruction will result in every other Democrat closing the door in their face. Manchin needs to start fearing for his committee chair—not that a climate foe should be in charge of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee anyway.

These are not pleasant things to think about, but we’re beyond niceties in trying to fight back Republican fascism.




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