The addresses are wrong. The “no deal” they are referring to is just one between President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. There’s a different deal, a bipartisan debt ceiling deal in the home-if They vote.
The House of Representatives has already passed the Republican-favored bill — let’s call that Option 1. Option 2 could be a compromise bill co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of representatives, possibly put forward by a problem-solving conference that raises the debt ceiling and includes more moderate cost-cutting. And option 3 should logically be the bill the president favors — a “clean” debt-ceiling bill that addresses only that immediate need. If these additional options were to make it to the House floor, there would be some measure of bipartisan support, and one or more would make the magic of 218.
Once Congress is freed to participate in the process of resolving this problem—or, more pessimistically, once robbed of the shield that the President and Speaker of the House currently provide for them—the question may yet become how many people on both sides dare to register that they are Prefer disaster? A clean debt ceiling bill only needs five Republicans to join all members of the House of Representatives to pass it. As the clock ticks down, it looks like there will be no less than five Republicans who, out of electoral principles or expectations, would choose to avoid global financial disaster over going down with the ship. Or perhaps, if Congress regains its legitimate authority as the legislative branch, it will pass the Option 2 Compromise Bill, as many Democrats would also like to see some fiscal sanity.
If either of those resolutions makes it past the GOP House with bipartisan votes, it’s doubtful the Senate will stand in the way and loom on the hypothetical horizon.
This is not to downplay the complexity of partisanship created by our divisive electoral system, which pushes both sides to rationally prioritize their hard-core votes because that is what it takes to win a party primaries. This difficulty is no excuse for not asking Congress to do its job – to vote, negotiate and vote again until they succeed. It took Congress 15 votes to elect a president, but they didn’t stop voting until they succeeded. As we saw then, the transparency and accountability of public vote casting has a catalytic effect, absent from the current intrigue, which is much needed.
Why don’t they vote? Because if you look behind the scenes at the Capitol, another deal has already taken place, and it’s a raw deal for the American public. It is an arrangement—one of many in our political system—designed to ensure that legislatures act in favor of parties rather than problem solvers.
This little-known arrangement is called the Hastert Rule (named after the disgraced former Speaker of the House), and its consequences now begin a high-stakes political battle that could lead to the United States defaulting on its debt for the first time. Payments – a prospect that should strike fear in all of us. But while the debt-ceiling brinksmanship causes appropriate consternation among economists, business leaders, and responsible citizens of all stripes, its causes—that bargain you mentioned—should spark outrage among all voters across the political spectrum.
Here’s why: Under the Hastert Act, the Speaker will not allow a vote on any bill unless a majority of the majority party (i.e. the speaker’s party) supports it. And that’s right even if the majority of the entire house He was Vote to pass. What’s worse: A newer version of the now-in-vogue Hastert Rule deplores that the Speaker of the House should not allow a vote on any bill unless it is passed with Just majority vote.
While in this case the Speaker of the House is a Republican, it should be noted that the Hastert Rule has become a well-accepted practice for every Speaker of the House, Republicans and Democrats alike. And the Senate, now controlled by Democrats, has its own version, too — but more on that in a bit.
The rule is certainly not an official enactment or a well-preserved point of order from the early American conferences. It is a new satirical tradition adopted by the ruling parties and intended – yes, semenTo frustrate bipartisanship if crossing party lines erodes the power of the majority in any way.
The consequences of this unfortunate standard are mind-boggling. Keep in mind that many potential bipartisan deals on important issues are not even worth negotiating, because unless speakers ignore the Hastert Rule (which they do from time to time, but rarely), bipartisan legislation supported by a majority of the country or a majority of the House ( but not by a majority of the majority party) has no chance of success – because there would be no vote at all. And this bears repeating: There will not even be a vote on bills that can pass with bipartisan support…in our democracy.
Article I of the Constitution gives Congress the power to set rules for how it will operate, and this is done at the opening of each Congress at the same time they elect the Speaker of the House. These formal rules along with other customary rules and practices for how laws are made combine to create what I call the “legislative machinery”. Our legislative machinery has been grossly bipartisan and designed, not to support bipartisan problem-solving, but to solidify and divide the spoils of power. It allows each party’s overt electoral calculus to stifle the legislature’s ability to act collectively—even when the electorate wants compromise and cooperation, and even when the majority of the representatives themselves want it.
crazy. think about it. In your companies, companies, and organizations, if you want to solve your biggest problems, I think one thing you probably won’t do is get everyone together, and say, “Hey, before we get down to business, let’s count here, and you split into two warring teams.” But that is the case every day in Washington, D.C., not because it malfunctions, but because it works exactly as designed.
To be clear, although the focus at this point in the current crisis is the Republican-controlled House, Democrats are using the same tools with equal enthusiasm. Note that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has already “guaranteed” that he will never allow a vote on the Republican debt ceiling bill that has already passed the House. If there were no more Hastert’s Rule, or an unnamed mirror in the Senate or other practices like it, it would be much easier to solve challenges like the one before us now.
The good news for this crisis is that the Hastert rule is not a rule at all. It’s a wink-and-nod agreement—a shady practice perfected in the proverbial smoky chambers of the Capitol. It can be disposed of much more quickly than envisioned and in time to avoid a catastrophe of default.
how? The American people must demand it. The call for business and public voices should be clear to both House Speaker McCarthy and Majority Leader Schumer: Let Congress vote.
Kathryn Gill is the co-author of a book Making Politics – How Political Innovation Can Break the Partisan Stalemate and Save Our Democracy.
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