If that title sounds all too familiar to you, it’s because we’ve run into problems with the U.S. government’s debt ceiling before. Congress has been in an intense gridlock over just about every issue in the past several years under the Obama administration, and the current debt ceiling fight has been no different. Bipartisanship is a key tactic in getting the deal first created and then agreed to, and the only way to avoid another government shutdown is to work together.
The problem thus far is that the Treasury says it will run out of funds to pay the government’s bills by November 3rd unless there is a new vote on the ceiling. But the story is largely the same as it has been in the past: Republicans do not want to raise the debt ceiling, but Democrats do; and there are a number of people running for office this time, too.
But bipartisanship is necessary to effectively reach decisions, especially when they concern crucial issues like the debt ceiling. Bipartisanship has certainly proven in the past to be a foundational tool for social and fiscal progress—and we need it now more than ever.
Members of Congress have overcome their differences before in favor of the greater good: an amicus brief from Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman and a diverse group of signatories asked for the restriction of religious freedom laws that refuse rights for LGBT people. The signatories carried divisive sentiments on many different subjects, and their backgrounds were likewise dissimilar; but the amicus brief was a united act that shows that members from all parties are capable of working together effectively.
There is no reason a similar partnership between representatives could not work now for the equally serious problem of the debt ceiling.
And maybe it has. Congress and the White House are close to a last-minute agreement regarding the debt ceiling and what looks like a probable hike. The agreement would raise governmental spending by $80 billion over the next two years and would include cuts to Medicare and Social Security as well as a few smaller social programs. An additional raise of $32 billion in war funds would also be included.
The New York Times notes that “the deal would represent a major breakthrough after years of gridlock in Congress, especially on fiscal issues,” and perhaps Congress has learned its lesson about why government shutdowns need to be avoided. When Congress can’t do its job, it reflects poorly on us as a nation, and it’s important that they at least can make it look like they get along for the health of the country.
The fact that members of Congress have been able to come together to agree on a deal is a good sign that we will be able to move forward. Though the proposed deal is not perfect, a failure to solve the problem by next week would be even worse.