The Brilliant Responsibility-Dodging Power of the Debt Deal

Reuters reports that the White House will ask for a debt limit hike “before the end of the week,” and reminds us that “lawmakers have 15 days within receiving the request to vote down the debt limit increase.”

That was part of the debt limit deal (usually credited to Mitch McConnell) that gave Republicans some deniability. Yes, the debt limit would go up. But Republicans would get chances to show how they disapproved of it. So, to be fair, would Democrats. Both parties like to vote against debt limit hikes, when they can – makes for good TV ads. The problem this time is that they may never get a chance. The Washington Post’s sharp congressional reporter Felicia Sonmez points out that Congress is actually out of town until January 17. (There’s a pro forma session, which prevents Obama from making recess appointments, but nothing can pass unless it does so with unanimous consent.) If Obama asks for the debt limit hike on Friday, December 30… look, I shouldn’t need to add this up for you. Unless some rebel members of Congress demand a vote on this, they get to stay away from the burning wreckage completely.

With a few extra months of perspective, how punt-heavy was the debt deal? Pretty darn punt-heavy. First there was the guaranteee of a Balanced Budget Amendment vote… which Republicans got, which failed. And now a “disapproval” vote which doesn’t even need to happen.