“They may have spiked the ball in the end zone a little too early,” Mitch McConnell observed about his Democratic colleagues to The New York Times last week.
The Senate majority leader was referring to the celebrations from Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi about the deal they struck with President Trump, in which the president agreed to a short-term increase in the debt ceiling over the objections of McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan. McConnell boasted that because of the way he wrote the corresponding legislation, going forward Democrats won’t have the same leverage on the debt ceiling that they thought they would.
But the agreement that “Chuck and Nancy” reached with Trump may end up backfiring on Democrats in another way: It freed up time for Republicans to take one last stab at dismantling the Affordable Care Act.
The House and Senate entered September facing a series of deadlines at the end of the month, most significantly the expiration of government funding on the 30th and a possible debt default at around the same date. Congress being Congress, most in Washington expected the month’s final week to be consumed by the usual fiscal brinksmanship, with a last-minute deal passing the House and Senate in the closing days. But the Democrats struck their deal with Trump surprisingly early, and their willingness to attach the spending and debt measures to a package of Hurricane Harvey aid cleared the congressional calendar for the end of the month.