ChrisWeigant.com

Please support ChrisWeigant.com this holiday season!

Congress' Real Deadline: Summer Vacation

[ Posted Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 – 15:07 PDT ]

There are now only a handful of possible outcomes of the debt ceiling standoff in Washington. We'll get to them all in a minute in more detail. One way or another, it's a pretty safe bet that the issue will (at least temporarily) be resolved by the fifth of August, at the absolute latest. Bank on it. The reason for such certainty is a simple one: if the debate goes on in any way past that date, then it will start to cut into Congress' month-long summer vacation. Which is (as any observer of American politics should know full well) the one unthinkable bridge-too-far in Washington. Because Congress' vacations are sacred... at least, to them.

If the debate goes on past the second of August, it likely will already be cutting into planned congressional vacation time. It's hard to tell, since they don't like to brag about this stuff, but the House web page's last scheduled item until September is on August 3rd. The Senate's calendar just chalks in August 8th through September 5th with the euphemism "State work period." This doesn't preclude them all from going home for their month of vacation immediately after the debt ceiling vote earlier next week, however. But let's generously assume they'll be working all of next week, which puts the real deadline for Congress to act in one fashion or another the fifth of August.

One of about five outcomes will, by then, have happened. Boehner's bill (or whatever shreds of it are left) could become law. Reid's bill (whatever remains of it) could become law. Congress could go right up to the limit, and then pass a short-term extension of a "clean" rise in the debt ceiling that Obama reluctantly signs. Everything could collapse, and Congress doesn't pass anything -- which leads to the last two possible outcomes: President Obama rides in at the last minute wielding the Fourteenth Amendment and declares the debt ceiling to be unconstitutional, and therefore null and void; or, we default on our debt and our credit rating is downgraded.

If either Boehner's bill or Reid's bill -- or some combination of the two -- makes it through at the last minute, then Congress will go home for a month (breathing a sigh of relief). If Congress passes a clean debt ceiling bill, it will push the problem off for a minimum of two months. The first month, of course, will be their vacation time. The second month will be a repeat of the past month. If Obama is boldly presidential in upholding the plain language of the Constitution, then Republicans are going to have a "14th nervous breakdown" (to coin a phrase). They will spend their monthlong vacation howling about Obama's action, and the House Republicans will immediately (after the vacation month ends, of course) begin impeachment proceedings against him. This will become one of the dominant issues in the election campaign, to put it mildly.

Of course, if all the negotiating and legislative posturing collapses, and we do default (or are downgraded), then Congress could actually have to forego some precious vacation time. Which means this option is the least likely to actually happen. There are many ways it could happen, but the assumption is that if it got close to falling apart completely that a clean bill would have to be rushed through at the absolute last minute. After all, they all have a flight to catch.

If John Boehner can't even manage that in his contentious House, then America defaults and economic calamity begins. If we do get to this point, one thing is going to become glaringly apparent to the American public: Congress takes an obscene and shameful amount of vacation time. For the most part, the public never really thinks about it, and the media rarely points it out. But the fact is, Congress is about to take another month off. For the first six months of this year, the House of Representatives was on vacation a total (not even counting official holidays) of over nine weeks, and the Senate took almost ten full weeks off. And that's before you add in July, or the four weeks they're about to award themselves.

Politically, Congress would have to stay in session if the economy was collapsing around us. Obama would demand Congress stay until the work was done, and the American people would back him up with a roar. The portion of the working public who gets to take twenty weeks off (paid, of course) every year is, to be blunt, non-existent. Congress' normal "August recess" would become the main story, if they foolishly chose to actually go home after such a fiasco.

Which is why I, for one, know that by the end of next Friday, Congress will have passed something or another which President Obama will sign. I have no idea what it'll be, but the alternative for the Congresscritters is so unthinkable -- having to actually work during August in the Washington miasmic heat -- that I know that something is going to get done. Call me cynical, but it's almost always a winning bet that Congress -- under no circumstances -- ever cuts back on its own vacation time. By the end of next week, at the absolute latest, Congress will act. And then they'll fly back home to enjoy their summer vacation, as usual.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Cross-posted at Business Insider
Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

19 Comments on “Congress' Real Deadline: Summer Vacation”

  1. [1] 
    jbl_inAZ wrote:

    So - will they leave enough congressmen hanging around or do some sort of weird parliamentary recess so Obama can't recess-appoint someone to head the consumer protection agency the republicans hate so much?

  2. [2] 
    Michale wrote:

    President Obama rides in at the last minute wielding the Fourteenth Amendment and declares the debt ceiling to be unconstitutional, and therefore null and void;

    Obama would, basically, be pulling a "Libya" and say that the laws do not apply to him..

    If that occurs, why waste any more time? Let's just declare him King Hussein The First and get on with the coronation... :^/

    or, we default on our debt and our credit rating is downgraded.

    From reading the excellent comments from LB, it seems to me that a downgrade in credit-rating is a foregone conclusion, regardless of what happens with the Debt Ceiling issue...

    They will spend their monthlong vacation howling about Obama's action, and the House Republicans will immediately (after the vacation month ends, of course) begin impeachment proceedings against him. This will become one of the dominant issues in the election campaign, to put it mildly.

    Which is exactly what Obama might be hoping for. He is hoping to pull a "Clinton" and have the country bail him out..

    As I mentioned in a previous commentary, Clinton had the Independents and most of the NPAs on his side.

    Obama has burned too many bridges with the Independents and NPAs for them to come riding to his rescue.. The vast majority of Independents and NPAs (Can I call them I&NPAs??? :D) would cheer on any impeachment proceedings against Obama...

    As an aside, what IS it about Democrat Presidents that simply BEG to be impeached?? :D

    "What *IS* it with you???"
    -"Bones" McCoy, STAR TREK VI, The Undiscovered Country

    :D

    Which is why I, for one, know that by the end of next Friday, Congress will have passed something or another which President Obama will sign.

    Or Obama could REALLY put the screws to Congress and send said something BACK, thereby forcing Congress to remain in session..

    The Obama that *I* voted for would do that gladly...

    The Obama we have now?? I doubt he would have the cajones.... :^(

    Michale.....

  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    Here's another perspective on the issue..

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/07/28/obama-boehner-and-rashomon/

    It's written by Lanny Davis, so give it a read... :D

    Michale.....

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    Let's lay it out this way...

    The only thing about the GOP's plan that the Dems don't like is the fact that we will go thru this all again in 6 months...

    Now, doing so doesn't harm the country at all... Since the Left has become so found of invoking Reagan, let's use Reagan.. Reagan and the country went thru this **18** times.... And this country turned out pretty well under Reagan..

    So, there is no harm to the country if we do this all again in 6 months...

    Now, of course, Democrats don't want to do all this again in 6 months. Because it will be in the middle of election season and such a thing would do great harm to Democrats who want to get (re)elected...

    To be fair, that is why Republicans WANT this again in 6 months. So it will increase their chances of getting (re)elected..

    So, I think we can all agree that kicking this thing down the road six months is strictly a partisan political issue... It's gross and naked partisan politics...

    BUT....

    But here's the kicker...

    If Democrats DON'T agree to the GOP plan, then all sorts of horrible and unimaginable and terrible things will happen..

    What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath of God type stuff.
    Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!
    Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes...
    The dead rising from the grave!
    Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

    -Ghostbusters

    At least, that's according to the Obama administration..

    So...... If Democrats and Obama refuse to accept the GOPs plan, they will be doing so purely for political partisan gain... Democrats and Obama will be willing to put this country thru unimaginable hurt, *SOLELY* because they want an advantage in the coming election...

    I invite anyone to point out the flaw in my logic...

    Michale....

  5. [5] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    While we're all waiting to see what the House will do, I thought I'd catch up on the comments. Before I do, though, I got a suggestion which I think is (1) a good one, and (2) easy enough to do programmatically that I may take a crack at it. The main idea is "show, somehow, when comments have been added on the main page, so that I can easily see which comment threads are recent and which aren't." I could possibly do this over in the sidebar, with perhaps "comments updated within past 24 hours" or something along those lines at the bottom of each article blurb in the main section. Anyway, let me know what you think of the general idea.

    Onwards to answering comments. I'm going to start here, and work backwards to last Friday (if I get that far), just to let everyone know.

    jbl_inAZ -

    That's always a possibility. See the HuffPost column comments, I pasted in two sections of the Constitution, but when it comes to parliamentary rules in both the House and Senate, there are uncounted tricks either side can use. The President (this is a hangover from the British Parliamentary system, I believe) has the power to either force Congress into session, or to forceably adjourn it -- but this power is RARELY used. See Truman and the "do nothing Congress" for details.

    Michale -

    Obama would indeed be following in his Libya/WPA footsteps, but he'd be on much more solid ground. He would, after all, be using the plain text of the Constitution -- something the Tea Partiers are supposed to be in favor of. He swore an oath to protect and defend that Constitution, and he would be doing so by ignoring a law that was unconstitutional. However, he would likely be impeached for doing so -- which might just guarantee his reelection.

    As for the credit rating, remember that the people who set credit ratings are not part of the government and are not on the same time clock. They can downgrade us today, tomorrow, Aug. 2, Aug. 3, pretty much whenever they feel like it. It may be a foregone conclusion, or it may not, we'll see.

    Actually, with his stance on the debt ceiling debate, Obama has been winning independents back in droves. Check the polls for how independents are viewing the debate -- they're solidly with Obama's stated position.

    Obama getting impeached, as I said, would guarantee him reelection. He's just not going to be removed from office (20 Dem senators are just NOT going to vote for that). Period. But the whole circus playing out -- with Republicans on the side of "America should be in default RIGHT NOW" and Obama on the side of "I had to take drastic action to save the American economic national security" I bet I know who'd win that debate with the public. Remember, as you often cite during national security arguments, the Constitution is not a suicide pact.

    An Obama veto remains an option, but I doubt it'll happen. For different reasons than you state, but I'll agree with you that it's not likely.

    If America's credit rating is downgraded because we have to go through all of this in 6 months -- or if it crushes the Xmas economy, then it will indeed have harmed the country.

    Under Reagan, Democrats acted responsibly and passed clean debt ceiling bills. If the Republicans would now act in a similarly responsible manner, we wouldn't be here now. And, while it's more hypocrisy than illogic, allow me to point out to you, from last Friday's column, the GOP is massively breaking a campaign promise they made to not link bills in this fashion. Where's your outrage? Oh, I forgot, you're only outraged when DEMOCRATS break campaign promises, aren't you?

    -CW

  6. [6] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    As for the credit rating, remember that the people who set credit ratings are not part of the government and are not on the same time clock. They can downgrade us today, tomorrow, Aug. 2, Aug. 3, pretty much whenever they feel like it. It may be a foregone conclusion, or it may not, we'll see.

    And they can upgrade us just as fast...

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    However, he would likely be impeached for doing so -- which might just guarantee his reelection.

    I don't believe so.. Like I have said, the ONLY reason Clinton survived (and thrived in) impeachment is because the I&NPAs were, for the most part, on his side..

    Obama doesn't have that luxury in the here and now.. He has burned so many bridges with the I&NPAs, that they would like cheer on an Impeachment..

    I also don't believe that Obama is on firm Constitutional ground with invoking the 14th.. Obama himself has stated that he doesn't have the authority under the 14th, or ANY amendment, to raise the debt limit on his own...

    Actually, with his stance on the debt ceiling debate, Obama has been winning independents back in droves. Check the polls for how independents are viewing the debate -- they're solidly with Obama's stated position.

    I haven't seen those polls, but I will conditionally agree with you...

    However, if Obama lets us go into default then all bets are off...

    But the whole circus playing out -- with Republicans on the side of "America should be in default RIGHT NOW"

    Actually, you are not up on current events..

    Republicans HAVE a plan.. And it's a good and bipartisan plan..

    The ONLY thing that the Dems don't like about it is it only lasts 6 months. And that is solely a political consideration...

    So, if the Dems and/or Obama kill the plan, guess what??

    It's on them..

    Obama doesn't have a plan.. Reid's plan is ridiculous and NO DEM has even seen it...

    and Obama on the side of "I had to take drastic action to save the American economic national security" I bet I know who'd win that debate with the public. Remember, as you often cite during national security arguments, the Constitution is not a suicide pact.

    Defaulting on debt, even if it comes to that, is not a suicide pact by ANY stretch of the definition...

    If America's credit rating is downgraded because we have to go through all of this in 6 months -- or if it crushes the Xmas economy, then it will indeed have harmed the country.

    Au contraire... During the Reagan years (which Dems like to invoke when it suits them) the Debt Ceiling was debated and raised 4 times during the holiday season. Once in Dec of 1980, Nov of 1983 and Nov AND Dec of 1985....

    So, debating a Debt Ceiling during the holiday season hasn't harmed the country in the past. There is absolutely NO reason to suspect it will harm the country this time..

    No, the ONLY reason, the ONE AND ONLY reason that Dems don't want to agree to the GOP's plan is because it will hurt their re-election campaigns..

    In other words, Dems and Obama are going to let the country go into default because of their re-election agenda...

    If the Republicans would now act in a similarly responsible manner, we wouldn't be here now.

    Republicans are acting now like Dems were acting in 2006.. Except they are showing more backbone about it...

    And, while it's more hypocrisy than illogic, allow me to point out to you, from last Friday's column, the GOP is massively breaking a campaign promise they made to not link bills in this fashion. Where's your outrage? Oh, I forgot, you're only outraged when DEMOCRATS break campaign promises, aren't you?

    Touche' :D

    My outrage is in the same place ya'alls outrage was when the Dems did it.. :D

    Seriously, I don't recall that particular campaign promise, but I take you at your word that it was made...

    What can I say.. It simply shows that Republicans are as adept at breaking promises as Democrats are..

    I *AM* outraged that they would do that... But I am not really surprised...

    They ARE politicians, after all..

    No, the issue here is are Republicans any worse than Democrats??

    Ya'all seem to think so...

    Yet, there is absolutely NO evidence to show that one Party is more or less inept, corrupt or downright nasty than the other...

    None... Zero.... Zilch... Nada...

    That has ALWAYS been my position..

    And it has been a consistent position in the last 5 years... :D

    Michale....

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    Let me ask ya'all this..

    OTHER than having to re-visit this issue in 6-10 months, what is it that is wrong with the GOP's plan???

    What is about about the plan that would cause Democrats to think that going into default is preferable, knowing that the American people will likely blame Obama and the Democrats??

    Michale....

  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:

    I am also constrained to point out that Democrats ram-rodded CrapCare down the throats of the American People on Christmas Eve...

    NOW all of the sudden, the holidays is sacrosanct???

    How convenient is that, eh?? :D

    Michale.....

  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    Re. 'New Comments' Indicator

    The general idea of indicating "new comments" is a very good one. Particularly if you are involved in an ongoing discussion, this can alert you to any new replies.

    You have VoteVets.org highlighted here on your blog roll. I've been registered at VoteVets blog, VetVoice since the day Biden was invited to blog there along with all of the other Democratic presidential candidates.

    Anyway, they have a great way of highlighting new comments. At the bottom of each blog post, the number of comments are listed along with the number of new comments in red that have been posted since your last visit to the site: eg. 10 comments, 2 new comments ... with the '2 new comments' part in red; of course, the number of new comments will vary with each registrant, depending on when they last visited;

    Also, each "new comment" posted since a registrant's last visit, will have a red lettered 'NEW' at the top of it; that's not necessary here since all the comments are numbered and there are no reply options for each comment - I like your format the best, by the way ... numbered comments are better than being able to reply to each comment, in other words;

    Anyway, it would be nice to have the articles here marked as having "new comments" ... a big, shiny RED "new comments" underneath the article title on the left hand side of the site under Recent Articles would do just fine!

  11. [11] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    The flip side is, why can't the GOP offer something/ negotiate with the democrats to get their votes? It would not take too many to counter the tea party and the blue dogs bolt at a drop of the hat anyway. Weren't they complaining that they were left out of the debate during the last congress?

  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    Bashi,

    You can negotiate with anyone who says they will veto whatever you put forth..

    Obama uses compromise and balanced dozens of times, then in the next breath says he will veto ANYTHING the Republicans put forth....

    Once again, you are blinded by party ideology...

    Republicans have offered the ONLY sensible plan forward and the ONLY reason Obama and Democrats won't agree to it is because it upsets their personal ideological agenda..

    To HELL with the country.... Democrats are only worried about Democrats..

    THAT is the reality of the here and now...

    Michale.....

    Michale..

  13. [13] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Democrats have offered the ONLY sensible plan forward and the ONLY reason Boehner and the GOP won't agree to it is because it upsets their personal ideological agenda..

    There, fixed it for you...

  14. [14] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Obama uses compromise and balanced dozens of times, then in the next breath says he will veto ANYTHING the Republicans put forth.

    Michale, the amount of stuff you're having to make up to justify your arguments is really putting quite a strain on you.

    Obama never said any such thing. If it takes sooooo much work to make up all this stuff, do you ever wonder if maybe ... just maybe ...

    Eh ... nevermind.

    I'm just worried that you're gonna have an aneurysm. And politics isn't worth it. Seriously.

    BTW-
    For anyone who's interested, here's a fantastic interview with Bruce Bartlett, former Reagan adviser, about the situation:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036697/vp/43917503#43917503

    The only place he loses me is at the end when he gets a little ranty about Republicans.

    -David

  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    Democrats have offered the ONLY sensible plan forward and the ONLY reason Boehner and the GOP won't agree to it is because it upsets their personal ideological agenda..

    WHAT plan??

    Obama admits he doesn't have a plan.

    No one has seen Reid's Plan..

    Please provide a link that details a Democrat plan.

    The ONLY plan I have heard about from Democrats is very similar to the GOP plan.. The *ONLY* difference is that the Dem plan extends the same about of "savings" over a year, instead of the 6-10 months that the GOP plan does.

    In other words, the ONLY thing that Dems don't like about the GOP plan is that it puts this issue back up before the election..

    And that's nothing but Dems trying to serve their political agenda...

    Dems are willing to let the country go to hell because saving it would hurt their re-election chances...

    David,

    Obama never said any such thing.

    Really??

    Obama team threatens to veto Boehner debt plan
    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2011/07/obama-team-urges-boehner-reid-compromise/1

    This was after his Monday night address when he used the word compromise and balance a dozen times or more...

    It's clear to anyone without a partisan ideological bone in their body that Democrats would rather see the country default rather than re-visit the issue right before the election.

    This is the ONLY logical conclusion one can come to.

    If you have an alternative...???

    "Well, I'm all ears.."
    -Ross Perot, 1992 Presidential Debates

    :D

    Michale.....

  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    Grrrrr.. I hate when I forget an attribute... :^/

  17. [17] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Grrrrr.. I hate when I forget an attribute... :^/

    Me too :).

    And yes, you're right that Obama threatened to veto the Boehner plan.

    This is a far cry, however, from "Obama says he will veto ANYTHING the Republicans put forth". (emphasis yours)

    A bit of history:
    1) During the first round of negotiations, Cantor walked out. Killing any deal.

    2) Then, Obama/Boehner had a plan. The Tea Party killed it.

    3) The Tea Party came up with their plan. Which was 100% them and guaranteed not to win any Democratic support. It died in the Senate.

    4) They sat down again. This time Boehner walked out on negotiations.

    Now, Boehner's trying to get something which might be close to passing through the House. And the Tea Party is still saying "no".

    This leads me to believe that they don't want to pass anything to raise the debt ceiling. They're willing to let the country default on a budget which they passed.

    I do believe you are correct though in that there are relatively minor differences between what Congress is looking at and the Senate would pass.

    In other words, the ONLY thing that Dems don't like about the GOP plan is that it puts this issue back up before the election.

    I actually hope they do this again before the election. I'd push to make it right about now next year.

    It'd be the best campaign commercial ever. It shows who's really driving the Republican party (hint: the nuts) and the economy as an issue is on display for months.

    The Wall St Journal says the same thing:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903591104576470061986837494.html?mod=WSJ_hp_mostpop_read

    If Obama were smart, he'd push for it too.

    -David

  18. [18] 
    Michale wrote:

    4) They sat down again. This time Boehner walked out on negotiations.

    Only because Obama reneged on the original deal and added another 400 Billion to the revenues..

    I actually hope they do this again before the election. I'd push to make it right about now next year.

    That's the point I am making. If the American People are behind the Democrats in this, why NOT re-visit the issue again in 6-10 months??

    Answer... The American People really aren't behind Democrats and their orgasmic spending...

    If Obama were smart,

    "Yea and if me grandmother 'ad wheels, she'de be a wagon.."
    -Commander Montgomery Scott, STAR TREK III, THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK

    :D

    Michale.....

  19. [19] 
    Michale wrote:

    This article really nails what Obama is all about...

    And so his failures in the debt ceiling fight. He wasn't serious, he was only shrewd—and shrewdness wasn't enough. He demagogued the issue—no Social Security checks—until he was called out, and then went on the hustings spouting inanities. He left conservatives scratching their heads: They could have made a better, more moving case for the liberal ideal as translated into the modern moment, than he did. He never offered a plan. In a crisis he was merely sly. And no one likes sly, no one respects it.

    So he is losing a battle in which he had superior forces—the presidency, the U.S. Senate. In the process he revealed that his foes have given him too much mystique. He is not a devil, an alien, a socialist. He is a loser. And this is America, where nobody loves a loser.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/declarations.html

Comments for this article are closed.
[Powered by WordPress]