It looks as if Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell have got a deal in the works that could get through the Senate:
An emerging deal to reopen the government and raise the nation's debt ceiling until February gathered political momentum Monday evening after Senate Republicans signaled they would likely support it.I'm no Mitch McConnell fan, but I give him some credit -- he's facing a tough reelection fight in 2014, he has a tea party primary challenger, he's being attacked by the high-profile Senate Conservatives Fund (which was founded by Jim DeMint in his pre-Heritage days), and so you'd think this would be a political risk for Mitch. If so, he's actually putting his career at some risk on behalf of his country.
Lawmakers and aides said the legislation would fund the government until Jan. 15 and extend the nation's borrowing authority until February but leave ObamaCare largely untouched.
One senior Senate aide said it would raise the debt ceiling until Feb. 7 while another said Feb. 15 remains a possibility.
It would also establish a Senate-House budget committee to craft a replacement for the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration, which would have to report its work product to Congress by Dec. 13....
Are you paying attention, John Boehner?
I assume this Senate deal will be delayed by Ted Cruz, who has the right to call for a full thirty hours of debate on the proposal -- thanks in advance, Ted, for reinforcing the message that this is a Republican/teabagger crisis -- and we'll go a short way past the default deadline, but not enough to cause irreversible cataclysmic problems. Senate Republicans are signaling that they want to sign on to the deal, so I think it will pass the Senate.
Then there's the House. I see that House Crazy Caucus Republicans had a secret meeting last night with Cruz:
Citing unnamed sources, Roll Call reported that Cruz and "roughly 15 to 20 House Republicans" met for about two hours in the basement of Tortilla Coast, a Tex-Mex restaurant on Capitol Hill....Somewhere in the period of Cruz's delay and the House GOP's threat to block the deal in that chamber, U.S. and global stock markets are going to go into free fall. These won't be irreversible plummets -- they'll just be a warning shot across Boehner's bow.
Attendees reportedly included Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Steve King (R-IA), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Raúl R. Labrador (R-ID), Steve Southerland II (R-FL), Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Justin Amash (R-MI).
I think he'll respond then -- but I'm not sure. He's put his Speakership above all else so far. It may take more pressure from the business mainstream, either against Crazy Caucus members or on behalf of non-crazies. That kind of pressure seems slow in coming, but I think the prospect of default will concentrate minds.
So I think this will end -- for a few months. This is a short-term deal, after all. We'll be back in crisis again in a few months.
We need a bill or a constitutional amendment that removes this kind of brinkmanship from our system permanently. I'm not saying that such a bill could be enacted right now -- but one should be written.
It needs a catchy, memorable name. And then every Democrat in America should run on supporting it. Non-crazy Republicans are free to run on it as well, as well as independents. I think it could catch on. I think Democrats running on it in relatively safe Republican districts could surprise their opponents, just on the basis of being in favor of running the government like grown-ups. America hates this. (Or at least non-tea-party America does.)
Come on, folks, take the initiative. Make that the choice: crisis or crisis-free -- which side are you on? Make this the key issue for 2014.
UPDATE: Well, I left out the part where House crazies, presumably with Ted Cruz goading them on, declare the deal unacceptable before it could even be finalized by the Senate. Robert Costa reports:
... House conservatives are bashing [the deal] behind the scenes, and they're pushing leadership to reject the compromise. A flurry of phone calls and meetings last night and early this morning led to that consensus among the approximately 50 Republicans who form the House GOP's right flank. They're furious with Senate Republicans for working with Democrats to craft what one leading tea-party congressman calls a "mushy piece of s**t." Another House conservative warns, "If Boehner backs this, as is, he's in trouble."I supposed it's possible that Reid and McConnell will be flexible enough to accept a few Crazy Caucus conditions, and then it will be the usual fight to get GOP crazies to take yes for an answer. Or maybe the crazies are killing the deal in its crib and default is inevitable. There's no stock market plummet as I type this update (10:02 A.M. on Tuesday), but a plummet is inevitable sooner or later. And Boehner has to tell these people to piss off, or the first line of his obituary will be that he was the guy who allowed the economy to crash just to save his phony-baloney job.
But that's unlikely to happen. As of 8:30 a.m., House conservatives believe the leadership is well aware of their unhappiness, and they expect Boehner to talk up the House's next move: another volley to the Senate, which would extend the debt ceiling, reopen the government, and set up a budget conference, plus request conservative demands that go beyond the Senate's outline....