Mcconnell Takes Advantage Of The Debt Standoff To Derail Biden's Programme

Despite the fact that McConnell is no longer the majority leader, he is using his minority status in unusual and complex ways.

Mcconnell Takes Advantage Of The Debt Standoff To Derail Biden's Programme
Mcconnell Takes Advantage Of The Debt Standoff To Derail Biden's Programme

Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, had remarkable power in the frantic attempt to avoid a debt default by orchestrating both the problem and the solution. Even though McConnell is no longer the majority leader, he is using his minority status is confusing and unknown ways to thwart President Joe Biden's domestic programme, even if it means putting the country in great economic jeopardy.

However, the resolution of the current debt crisis gives no reason to believe there won't be another. McConnell orchestrated a resolution to the impasse that guaranteed Congress will be in the same position in December when the government's financing runs out. As the COVID-19 situation continues and the economy tries to recover, this means another potentially fatal debt showdown. Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, claimed Mitch McConnell "loves turmoil." He's a brilliant tactician and strategist, yet his actions frequently cost the country dearly. 

McConnell's reputation as a master of deception has been strengthened by the crisis. He's the one who created the impasse and managed to break it, albeit only temporarily. More fights are on the way as Democrats try to reduce Biden's broad agenda, which includes a USD2 trillion expansion of health, child care, and climate change programmes, all funded by taxes on companies and the rich, which Republicans oppose. 

To other Republicans, McConnell is a cunning leader who wields power and undermines Biden's agenda with every tool at his disposal. Others, especially Donald Trump, think he's weak because he gave in too soon.
To Democrats, McConnell remains an infuriating rival who has shown again he is willing to break one institutional norm after another to pursue Republican power.

McConnell's role is to be the leader of the opposition and it's his job to push back on what the majority wants to do, said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist. Nobody should be surprised to see the Republican Party's leader making the Democrats' job more difficult, he said. 
The dangers are obvious, not just for Biden and the Democrats in charge of the White House. 

Democrats were painted as huge spenders during the debt debate, prepared to add to the nation's now-$28.4 trillion debt to pay the bills. However, both parties have added to the burden by making decisions in the past that have resulted in the government rarely running in the black. Republicans, too, face backlash from all sides of their bitterly divided party.  In easing off the crisis, McConnell insulated his Republicans from further blame but infuriated Trump and his allies, who are eager to skewer the Kentucky senator for giving in. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said he told his colleagues during a private meeting before the debt vote that it was a mistake for Republican leadership to agree to this deal.

Once a routine vote to ensure the nation's bills are paid, raising the debt limit has become a political weapon, particularly for Republicans, to rail against government spending. The tea party class of Republicans a decade ago brought the nation to the brink of default over the issue and set a new GOP strategy.

In this case, McConnell made it clear that he had no requests other than to derail Biden's domestic programme, which includes the now-$2 trillion bill that is the president's flagship legislation but is lambasted by Republicans as a socialist tax-and-spend binge. Democrats are counting on a convoluted technique known as the budget reconciliation process to force Biden's programme through, rather than the 60 votes generally required to overcome Senate objections. With her ability to cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate's 50-50 divide, Vice President Kamala Harris gives Democrats the majority.

McConnell seized on the Democratic budget strategy as a way to conflate the issues, announcing months ago he wanted Democrats to increase the debt limit on their own using the same procedure. It was his way of linking Biden's big federal government overhaul with the nation's rising debt load, even though they are separate and most of Biden's agenda hasn't been enacted.

The vote to increase the debt ceiling has rarely been popular, and both parties have had to do it on their own at times. However, McConnell broke new ground in the Senate by attempting to dictate terms to Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., defied McConnell's requests for the lengthy procedure and proceeded to pass the debt ceiling bill in a more usual manner. 

Schumer's effort ran into the Republican blockage or filibuster as the Oct. 18 deadline approached when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned the government would run out of funds to pay the nation's debts. McConnell only called a timeout as business pressure mounted and Biden pleaded with Republicans to get out of the way. McConnell orchestrated the way around the problem by allowing the traditional vote on Thursday night and even joining 10 other Republican senators in helping Democrats reach the 60-vote threshold needed to ease off the crisis.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki lauded the Republicans who did their part tonight, ending the filibuster and allowing Democrats to do the work of raising the debt limit. But she urged the parties to come together to find a more permanent solution. We can't allow the routine process of paying our bills to turn into a confidence-shaking political showdown every two years or every two months, she said.

Schumer struck a more acerbic tone.
Republicans engaged in a reckless and risky partisan game, and I'm delighted their brinkmanship failed," he remarked. 
That, too, caused problems: in a letter to Biden sent late Friday, McConnell stated, "Such shenanigans ensure me that I will not provide such help again." 

McConnell told Republican colleagues the night before the vote that he developed the solution in part because he was concerned that Democrats might change the filibuster rules, which they had been contemplating as a last resort. He'd called out to two important Democrats, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, to make sure they weren't considering it.

And besides, the Republican leader had accomplished his goal: jamming up Biden's agenda, sowing the seeds of fiscal distress and portraying Democrats as a party struggling to govern. It's the first big fight that McConnell has picked with Biden, and it appears to be the one that could define the final phase of their decades-long association.