Bipartisanship This Week Could Still Lead to Brinksmanship in December
The Debt

Bipartisanship This Week Could Still Lead to Brinksmanship in December

Kevin Lamarque

Mark December 8 on your calendars. The House on Friday passed legislation to keep the government running and extend the debt ceiling through that date, approving an unexpected deal reached earlier this week by President Trump and Democratic leaders. The bill, which Trump quickly signed, also provides $15.25 billion for hurricane disaster relief and temporarily extends the National Flood Insurance Program.

The measure, passed by a 316-90 margin, garnered 133 Republican votes, a majority of the majority — but it didn’t sail through without drama. Republicans accounted for all 90 "no" votes. Many conservatives rejected the short-term debt ceiling extension because it did not include spending cuts, and some criticized the Friday morning pitch made by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House budget director Mick Mulvaney to secure GOP votes for the bill. Some GOP caucus members reportedly booed when the Trump administration officials did not commit to making federal spending cuts part of the next debt ceiling increase.

“Show us a plan,” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) said he told Mnuchin, according to Politico. “We can’t just keep borrowing money. We’re going to be $22 trillion in debt.”

“When you have a Democratic donor Treasury secretary saying we as a Republican Congress need to vote for this and an OMB director I don’t believe ever supported a clean debt ceiling … say we need to do this, it’s kind of ‘Where am I right now?” Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA) said.

The bill’s passage only delays some likely fiscal fights to a time of the year when lawmakers looking to head home for the holidays will already be facing pressure on a number of fronts. And the intraparty tensions on display Friday, as well as battles between Republicans and Democrats, may come to the fore again as lawmakers count down the days to the next fiscal showdown. Bipartisanship may have broken out in D.C. this week, but it could still revert to brinksmanship very quickly.

This article has been updated.