By Brendan Loy
Well, the House GOP has finished wasting the better part of a week on fantasy-land legislation so unrealistic and irrelevant to the final (necessarily bipartisan) resolution of this crisis, they might as well have tied a debt-ceiling increase to Frodo casting the Ring into the Fire. Obviously, the Senate immediately voted down the House’s non-starter of a ridiculous, designed-to-fail bill. So, that’s that. Our last full week before national default, completely wasted on political posturing and partisan nonsense! Congratulations, guys! And it now appears there may not be enough time left to prevent disaster:
Here is advice from veterans of past budget battles in Congress that went to the brink: This time, be afraid. Be very afraid. …
Democrats and Republicans with legislative experience agree that even if both sides decided Saturday to raise the $14.3 trillion borrowing ceiling and to reduce future annual deficits, it would be extremely difficult for the compromise measure to wend its way through Congress before Tuesday’s deadline, given Congressional legislative procedures.
But such a bipartisan deal seemed virtually impossible on Friday, as House Republicans approved their bill and dug in deeper against compromise with President Obama.
In a word, #PANIC! Of course, this assumes that August 2 is the “real” deadline, which some experts have questioned, but Treasury has not yet backed away from. Anyway, the Washington Post offers more details on the legislative timetable:
The Senate is driving toward a climactic and dramatic vote at 1 a.m. Sunday that could determine whether a bipartisan deal to raise the nation’s legal borrowing limit is possible or a government default is likely.
What that deal might look was still deeply uncertain Friday, but talks were underway between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate about methods to circumvent some of the chamber’s most cumbersome procedures to allow the Senate to act more quickly if a compromise is reached. …
Senate rules require a full day in between Reid introducing the measure Friday night and a vote to cut off debate, leading to a key vote early Sunday.
Closing debate will require the approval of 60 senators, meaning Reid will require at least seven Republican votes to clear that hurdle.
If the measure cleared that hurdle, the final passage would require a simple majority of senators to send the bill to the House. Without unanimous agreement, however, it would require an additional 30 hours of debate for that final vote, meaning 7:30 a.m. Monday would be the earliest a final vote could happen.
Then, the measure would return to the House on Monday, where it would face a final critical vote — with the outcome deeply uncertain, as world markets watch nervously.
[UPDATE: More from Politico:
Reid and the White House do not have a deal with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Talks ground to a halt as House Republicans moved forward with their own plan that Democrats oppose. That means Reid may file cloture on his own plan to raise the debt ceiling without GOP support.
Even if a bipartisan accord is reached when the Senate is in the cloture process, Reid would need unanimous consent to swap in any compromise measure, an unlikely scenario given the passions in the fight.
Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and senior White House officials have been talking with lawmakers across the Capitol this week, but Republicans put the talks on ice in recent days until the House took up the Boehner bill, according to Democratic officials familiar with the negotiations.
As a matter of fact, Reid filed for cloture on a modified bill designed to attract GOP support. But it wasn’t a “compromise” so much as a unilateral attempt by Reid to compromise with himself, because he was out of time — because the GOP wasted a week on the Boehner plan.]
Meanwhile, Treasury is finalizing its contingency plans.
There is no curse in Elvish, Entish of the tongues of Men for the reckless, indefensible irresponsibility of the various fools, idiots and cynical bastards who have brought us to the brink of this utterly unnecessary disaster. They are a f***ing disgrace to the nation they purport to lead.