Our Best Stuff From the Week We Actually Fixed the Debt Ceiling

House Speaker Kevin McCarth) speaks during a press conference after the House passed the Fiscal Responsibility Act, raising the debt ceiling on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, May 31, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/Washington Post/Getty Images)

Hello and happy weekend. I’m going to keep this intro short, for a couple reasons. For starters, I’m finishing this up from our son’s baseball game, and it’s 90 degrees with no shade. I’m a little worried my laptop will spontaneously combust if I’m not careful. But also, I’d rather you spent your time reading Kevin’s dispatch from Ukraine (summarized below), which we published on Monday. It’s long but well worth your time. 

The biggest news this week, of course, is that Congress somehow managed to stave off default and potential economic calamity by passing a deal to suspend the debt ceiling until 2025—meaning we won’t have to endure another similar fight in the middle of an already heated election season. (I think we can all agree that the 2024 election will feature more drama than any of us would prefer.)

What’s most surprising is how anti-climactic it ended up being. The Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 (continuing Congress’ long tradition of naming bills in Orwellian fashion) passed both chambers with wide bipartisan support: 314-117 in the House and 63-36 in the Senate. In an earlier Boiling Frogs (🔒), Nick had predicted Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s attempt to pass a deal would look something like Chesley Sullenberger’s heroic landing of an Airbus A320 in the Hudson River in 2009. But on Thursday, he admitted it was a little smoother: “Sullenberger was still forced to crash-land on the water, after all, surviving by the skin of his teeth. McCarthy ended up gliding in for an uneventful landing at the local airport, grinning and thumbs-upping the whole way. And he did it despite never having flown a plane before.”

When I was a younger, brasher conservative, I joked frequently that the less Congress did, the better: “What’s not to love about gridlock? It keeps them from spending even more of our money!” But governance is actual, serious business. Brian Riedl of the Manhattan Institute went through the various measures in the bill and found a lot for conservatives to dislike but argued it was still vital that it be passed and signed into law. “Congress simply cannot risk the economic calamity that could result from Washington defaulting on substantial federal obligations and possibly even its own debt.” 

Join to continue reading
Get started with a free account or join as a member for unlimited access to all of The Dispatch. Continue ALREADY HAVE AN ACCOUNT? SIGN IN