Senate averts disaster — for now

Like the rest of the world — Democrats and Republicans should be terrified at how close to ruin Congress brought the nation.

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Editorials

October 8, 2021 - 3:26 PM

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) leaves the Senate chamber after a vote at the Capitol to lift the debt ceiling Oct. 7, 2021. The Senate narrowly voted to increase the debt ceiling by $480 billion through December 3 in a 50-48 vote. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Thursday a deal with Republicans to raise the federal debt limit. The world can breathe easy — for just a bit, and then it is back to worrying about whether national default is around the corner.

Mr. Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not sign a peace treaty so much as a cease-fire on the debt ceiling, and perilously close to Oct. 18, the date the Treasury Department indicated it would run out of cash. In the process, Mr. McConnell gave up some — but still very little — ground, and the two leaders managed only to agree to push off until December their conflict over who is responsible for preserving the full faith and credit of the United States.

Democrats may nevertheless feel as though they won this round, and that Mr. McConnell will cave if they push the nation close enough to default. That would be the wrong lesson. Like the rest of the world, Democrats and Republicans should be terrified at how close to ruin Congress brought the nation — and they should act now to head off another debt crisis in two months’ time.

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