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We’re caught between high stakes negotiations

Some mighty high-stakes poker is being played in our nation’s capital these days, with the nation’s fiscal future hanging in the balance.

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted to approve a federal debt limit and funding continuation plan that would allow the government to remain open when the U.S. fiscal year ends on Sept. 30. It passed on a 220-211 party line vote. It now has to go through the evenly-divided Senate, where Republicans are firmly against, and the Democrats can’t afford to lose one vote, and where Republicans can block with a filibuster that can’t be stopped without a 60-vote margin.

Really at issue is the $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” budget bill that Republicans are fighting. Even some Democrats are balking at the size of the bill and are working to cut it back.

This is the kind of hard bargaining that seems to invigorate the decision makers, but makes the rest of us feel queasy. It’s no fun being the hostage in a standoff, and that’s what we are.

Our government needs to meet its financial obligations. Every politician in Washington knows that. Politicians also know when they have their opponents at a disadvantage.

President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda is in danger of derailing our government’s fiscal continuity. He and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer need to pare back their ambitious and expensive plans for something that will fly in the Senate.

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