How the Debt Ceiling Came to Be a Political Cudgel


The Democrats’ latest attempt to draw in the Republicans came Monday, when the Senate took up a bill to continue funding the government — an absolute necessity by Sept. 30 — with a temporary increase in the debt ceiling, along with disaster-relief assistance and funding for refugee resettlement. But since it’s a conventional piece of legislation, the Republicans blocked it with the threat of a filibuster.

That leaves the Democrats with few options but to use the budget reconciliation process to lift the ceiling, adding to the party’s long to-do list in the coming days. It’s time consuming, but absent a colossal mistake by congressional leaders, it will happen, just as Mr. McConnell promised.

If that’s the case, what’s the big deal? Republicans say they’ll use the vote to attack Democrats during the midterms, but it’s hard to imagine making it stick, especially since the vote is about paying existing obligations, not creating new ones…

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