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To End the Debt Limit Crisis, Let Congress Vote

The headlines are wrong. The “no deal” they refer to is the only one between President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. There’s a different deal, a bipartisan debt-limit deal Home-If They vote.

The House has already passed the bill Republicans prefer—let’s call it Option 1. Option 2 could be a compromise bill co-sponsored by a group of bipartisan representatives, perhaps presented by the Problem Solvers Caucus, that raises the debt ceiling and includes more generous cost cuts. And Option 3 should arguably be the bill the President prefers – a “clean” debt ceiling bill that only addresses immediate need. If these additional options reach the House floor, there will be some measure of bipartisan support, and one or more will get to spell the passage of 218 years.

once Congress is freed to participate in the process of solving this problem – or, viewed more cynically, once they are robbed of the shield the president is currently providing them with. The question may still be how many, on both sides, dare to go on record that they prioritize disaster? Only five Republicans are needed to join all House Democrats to pass a clean debt limit bill. As the clock ticks down, it seems likely that there will be at least five Republicans, motivated by principles or electoral prospects, who choose to avert global financial disaster by going down with the ship. Or perhaps, were Congress to reclaim its rightful power as the legislative branch, the Option 2 compromise bill would pass, as many Democrats would also like to see some fiscal prudence.

If any of this passes the Republican House with a bipartisan vote, it’s doubtful the Senate default will stand in the way of the looming one.

This is not to diminish the complexity of partisanship created by our divisive election system, which drives both parties to rationally prioritize their most intransigent voices because that is what is needed to win party primaries. This difficulty is no excuse not to demand that Congress do its job – vote, negotiate, and vote again until they succeed. It took 15 votes for this Congress to elect the speaker, but they didn’t stop voting until they were successful. As we saw then, the transparency and accountability of casting a public vote has a motivating effect, which is sorely needed, absent from the current system.

So why don’t they vote? Because look behind the scenes on Capitol Hill and you’ll find that another deal has already been made, and it’s raw to the American public. It’s a system – one of many in our political system – designed to ensure that legislative bodies work for partisan gain rather than problem-solving.

That little-known arrangement is called the Hastert Rule (named after a disgraced former Speaker of the House), and its consequences are now playing out in a high-stakes political battle that could lead to the United States’ first default on its debt. Can Payment—an event that should strike fear in all of us. But while the volatility over the debt ceiling is causing justified consternation among economists, business leaders and responsible citizens of all stripes, its cause — the deal I mentioned — should spark outrage among voters across the political spectrum.

Here’s why: Under the Hastert Rule, the Speaker will not allow a floor vote on any bill unless the majority party (that is, the Speaker’s party) supports it. and it’s true even though full house majority would like Vote to pass it. What’s worse: A new version of the Hastert rule is now in vogue that the Speaker must not allow a vote on any bill until it can be passed. Only Votes of the majority party.

While in this case, the Speaker 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 as well — but more on that in a bit.

The rule is not, to be sure, an official piece of legislation or a well-preserved point of view from America’s earliest Congresses. This is a new cynical tradition, adopted by the ruling parties, and intended to- yes, intended– To thwart bipartisanship if crossing party lines undermines the strength of the majority in any way.

The consequences of this unfortunate norm boggle the mind. Consider that many potential bipartisan deals on important issues aren’t even worth negotiating, because unless speakers ignore the Hastert Rule (which they do from time to time, but rarely), bipartisan legislation is passed by the majority or majorities of the country. is supported by It has no chance of passing the House (but not by a majority of the majority party) – because there would never even be a vote. It’s worth repeating: our democracy will never have a vote on a bill that can pass with bipartisan support.

Article One of the Constitution gives Congress the power to set rules for their conduct, and they do so at the opening of every Congress at the same time they elect the president. Those official rules combined with other customary norms and practices form what I call the “legislative apparatus” of how laws are made. Our legislative machinery has been largely co-opted by both parties and is designed not to support bipartisan problem solving, but to divide the spoils of power. It allows the naked electoral calculus of each party to strangle the legislature’s ability to act collectively – even when constituents seek compromise and cooperation, and even when the majority of representatives themselves seek it.

Mad. Think about it. In your firms, companies, and organizations, if you want to solve your biggest problems, I suspect that one thing you probably won’t do is bring everyone together, and say: “Hey, before Let us work, let us count here, and divide into two fighting parties.” But that’s what happens every day in Washington, D.C., not because it’s broken, but because it’s working exactly as it’s made.

To be clear, although the focus at this point in the current crisis is on the Republican-held House, Democrats use the same tools with equal gusto. 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 Hastert Rule, no more anonymous mirrors in the Senate, and no other practices like them, the challenges we face now would be much easier to solve.

The good news for this crisis is that the Hastert rule is not a rule at all. It’s consensual in the blink of an eye—a shady practice perfected in the proverbial smoke-filled rooms of the Capitol. It can be abandoned far more quickly and in time than imagined to avoid the catastrophe of default.

How? The American people have to demand it. The call to the public and united business voices should be clear to both Speaker McCarthy and Majority Leader Schumer: Vote Congress out.

co-authored with Katherine Gehl The Politics Industry-How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy.

The opinions expressed in commentary are solely the views of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of Luck,

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