Debt ceiling crystal ball: Deal unlikely over next couple of days


It appears very unlikely there is any chance to get a deal on the debt ceiling over the next couple of days.

If that’s the case, the House likely cuts the rank-and-file members loose tomorrow for the Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day is one of the most important periods for lawmakers to be back in their districts (parades, events, et al). But lawmakers will be on standby to race back to Washington. The House is SCHEDULED to be OUT of session next week. The Senate is out this week, but SCHEDULED to return next week.

The calendar may read May. But in reality, the LEGISLATIVE calendar reads June.

Negotiators will likely stay in Washington and talk over the weekend.

There is nothing which will infuriate lawmakers any more than having to be in Washington with nothing to vote on. Also, if conservatives don’t get the deal they want or don’t like where things are headed, keeping Members away from one another actually helps. That tamps down potential dissent. 

That said, it may help count the votes if everyone is present in DC.

Once a deal is cut, it will take a day or two to get the bill into proper legislative form. 

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., says he will adhere to the ’72 hour rule’ for Members to consider the bill (purportedly in final form) before the House debates and voted on the bill. But that will also buy some time for the bill to be scored and evaluated by the Congressional Budget Office. Some lawmakers may wait to decide to vote yes or no based on the CBO score. 

It may also take a day or two to ‘whip’ the vote to know where members stand and if they have they the votes to pass the bill. 

Inevitability, there will be other hiccups which could slow down the process.

And we have not even discussed how long it will take the Senate to move the bill. The Senate could take five to seven days once it gets the bill from the House. However, if the Senate got agreement among all 100 senators, it could move VERY fast.

Any bill is going to require a special cocktail of Democratic and Republican votes – perhaps well over 100 Democrats. If that’s the case, the bill must reflect Democratic priorities. But are Republicans willing to absorb a hit which eliminates some of their goals. That’s the risk to McCarthy. How does he finesse this politically so some GOPers don’t rebel.

We are seeing McCarthy speak multiple times a day now before cameras and as he comes and goes from his office. Keep an eye on this. The more McCarthy speaks, the worse shape the talks are in. If they have a deal, the theory goes, McCarthy would speak less.

McCarthy is speaking more often publicly now to gin up his base, keep his members in line and fill the vacuum.

Bottom line: we don’t truly know exactly when the U.S. will collide with the debt ceiling. But the chances of working out a deal, let alone voting – in the House alone – probably gets this to the edge of June if not a few days into June.

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