Louisiana Rep. John Fleming is the latest House Republican to call for providing President Obama short term debt limit increases — if only so the GOP can keep hounding Democrats about government spending for the next two years. But as much as he’d like to extract a price from Obama, he subtly explained to reporters how Republicans might ultimately let their hostage go.
First, the demand: “I think the Republicans would have a real problem giving the president a clean debt ceiling, even … short term,” he said. “Maybe some would do it, but I think to get a majority of the majority vote, I think it’s impossible.”
But you should also know: “I think that the majority of the majority Hastert rule comes out of a time when we had a Republican president. When you have a Democrat president that’s a very hard thing to achieve sometimes — and not necessarily important.”
Really then the next several weeks are about laying the ground work for Republicans to ditch the Hastert rule before the country’s borrowing authority lapses. One way to do that, he explained: “We could pass it [a debt limit bill] from the House to the Senate with what we want, and then the Senate could always revise and send it back and who knows, maybe there’d be enough Democrat votes to get it passed.”
And while that’s happening, Republicans can put up a more legitimate fight over the sequester and expiring federal appropriations.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.