If Republicans prevail within the midterm elections subsequent month, Democrats are going to have simply two months earlier than they lose management of Congress to cram in holding the federal government open, passing same-sex marriage protections and getting by an enormous protection coverage invoice.

And if they need President Joe Biden’s presidency to have a fruitful second half, they might have so as to add one other merchandise to their checklist: elevating the debt ceiling.

In 2011, Republicans within the Home held a debt ceiling improve hostage till President Barack Obama signed into legislation caps on annual spending. Whereas the caps had been solely mildly profitable in restraining spending, the battle to get them introduced the U.S. authorities within days of a potential first-ever default and resulted within the first downgrade of federal debt by a scores company.

With a repeat of the 2011 scenario doubtless if Republicans win both the Home or Senate — however with most likely even larger GOP reluctance to lift the debt restrict this time round — Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the Home Methods and Means Committee, advised HuffPost he’d take into account coping with the debt ceiling within the post-election lame duck session as an alternative.

“I’d be open to it, sure,” he stated final week. “We’ll wait and see.”

Whereas the debt ceiling has lengthy been held hostage virtually solely by Republicans, the U.S. has but to default — and when push has come to shove prior to now, the restrict has been raised.

“At any time when the debt ceiling is used as a political cudgel, it’s harmful to our democracy and monetary standing on this planet.”

– Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.)

However there’s motive to suppose that calculus may change with a Republican Home or a Republican Home and Senate. Whereas many Home Republicans in 2011 had been elected as tea occasion candidates, a lot of the Republican convention had been by earlier showdowns and knew a default could be catastrophic to America’s funds.

However incoming GOP freshmen can be extra strident than their tea occasion ideological forebears, and lots of the rank and file who supported debt restrict will increase in previous offers have been crushed in primaries or retired, making the job of a possible Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) that a lot tougher.

The debt lately topped $31 trillion and is just a few hundred billion away from reaching its congressionally set ceiling of $31.381 trillion. In federal price range phrases, that’s just a few unhealthy money-losing months away, at the least earlier than the spring tax receipts begin pouring in. Treasury’s “extraordinary measures” — mainly, accounting maneuvers — would most likely internet a number of additional months, however even that might solely push the “drop lifeless” date to the autumn and even presumably the late summer season.

Coping with the debt restrict within the lame duck session, when Democrats may cross it with none GOP votes, could be powerful sledding, although. There are already numerous contentious points lined up, together with one other deadline to maintain the federal government open.

As well as, Democrats must cross a price range define in each chambers, put susceptible senators within the 2024 cycle on the road for not one however two daylong rapid-fire sequence of votes referred to as vote-a-ramas and, once more, not lose any votes on their very own aspect. They’d even be criticized for breaking precedent by coping with such a controversial subject after they misplaced an election somewhat than ready till the brand new Congress.

The national debt recently breached $31 trillion, a new high.
The nationwide debt lately breached $31 trillion, a brand new excessive.

EVA HAMBACH through Getty Photographs

However with Republicans already utilizing the large worth tags of the American Rescue Plan and the Inflation Discount Act to hit Democrats as profligate spenders, the debt can be a fair larger political albatross than standard.

Even a easy vote to maintain the federal government funded earlier than lawmakers left for the midterm marketing campaign stretch was virtually solely a Democratic affair. Only 10 House Republicans voted in favor, regardless of the momentary funding invoice being devoid of controversial add-ons. 5 of these ten — Reps. Fred Upton (Mich.), John Katko (N.Y.), Chris Jacobs (N.Y.), Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio) and Adam Kinzinger (In poor health.) — won’t be returning for the 118th Congress.

Reportedly, Republican leaders are already dreading the prospect, with one Senate aide telling Axios, “I anticipate this can be one of many first conversations [Republican Senate Leader Mitch] McConnell has with McCarthy.”

Democrats have usually been reluctant to attempt to use the debt restrict in the identical method as Republicans, portraying it as essential to repay debt already incurred. Neal hewed to that line.

“At any time when the debt ceiling is used as a political cudgel, it’s harmful to our democracy and monetary standing on this planet,” he stated.

On the Senate aspect, Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sounded much less open to the thought than Neal, but in addition didn’t dismiss it.

“I don’t do speculative form of situations, notably when everyone says, ‘Oh, Republicans are going to win,’” he stated.

“Republicans aren’t going to win; we’re going to beat ’em. And I’ll have extra to say down the street.”