Roll Call is reporting that the White House has decided to delay making the formal request to Congress that it previously announced it would make today for the third increase in the federal debt ceiling that is allowed by the Budget Control Act, the debt ceiling increase deal enacted in early August.
This means that the 15-day period during which Congress may consider a resolution of disapproval will not expire while the House and Senate are out of session and that representatives and senators who want or need to vote against the $1.2 trillion increase in the government’s borrowing limit will have an opportunity to do so.
As I posted several days ago, there is no practical effect of this change because the debt ceiling is virtually guaranteed to be raised whether or not there’s a vote. The disapproval legislation will be vetoed anyway in the unlikely event that both houses adopt it, and there isn’t a two-thirds majority in either the House or Senate to override.
The far more interesting question is whether this was a screw-up by the White House in not realizing that, when it originally announced it would make the request , the 15-day period would be over before Congress returned to Washington, or whether the administration was doing this intentionally to take advantage of the process Congress agreed to in the August deal.
If it was inadvertent or a mistake, agreeing to delay the formal request makes some sense both because the White House doesn’t need to pick a fight on something it’s going to win anyway and because some congressional Democrats may want to have a vote against a debt ceiling increase on the record before the election.
On the other hand, given the successful power politics the White House played on the payroll tax increase a few weeks ago, it also makes some sense that the West wing was feeling its oats when this plan was developed and figured out that it could use the delay in the 15-day period as a bargaining chip with the GOP for something else.