More on the Gephardt Rule

Sarah Binder, an expert on Congressional procedures, provided the following back in October:  Reality check: ‘Gephardt Rule’ alone can’t fix the debt limit crisis.

She noted three reasons (read the whole thing for the details):

First, the Gephardt Rule applies only in the House.


Second, the Gephardt Rule did one thing particularly well: It empowered the House to shift the blame to the Senate for raising the debt limit.


Third, the success of the Gephardt Rule is contingent on a functioning budget process,

That last one is rather key.

Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. al-Ameda says:

    Frankly, I don’t care who (or whom) they blame, as long as they’re not causing instability in financial markets. Republicans tried to leverage their demands by putting default on the table as a not-so-bad alternative if the negotiation didn’t work out. House Republicans caused instability in 2011 and again in 2013.

  2. @al-Ameda: I would love to see a permanent solution, regardless of who was responsible in the past or who gets credit/blame in the short term.

  3. al-Ameda says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    I can’t think of one – except for mid-term elections.

    So much of the time it’s harmless Kabuki, however in 2011 and in 2013 it was far beyond the usual posturing and handwringing over our Debt Limit. Financial markets were actually concerned that Republicans weren’t kidding about default.

  4. de stijl says:


    Remember when “uncertainty” was a Republican economic talking point?

    Apparently, threatening world-wide financial melt-down isn’t “uncertainty.”

  5. rudderpedals says:

    The Monkey Cage is definitely Wapo’s best recent catch.

    ISTM the McConnell gambit/rule is probably the closest to a feasible solution to regular pending insolvency crises. Members can pat themselves on the back for minimizing economic uncertainty, the President can endorse his authorization noting that the debt limit must necessarily be extended because Congress spent more than it had.

  6. KP says:

    Does anyone have any quantitative input as to what effects were experienced by the 2-week shutdown last year?

    As long as the dollar is the reserve currency of choice, we will still have years and years to get our act together. Theoretically, if the Yuan or Yen ever comes for a vote as an alternative currency of choice, we can print out all of our debt, repay it in the same dollars, severely devalue our currency, spur the demand for our devalued exports, and get out of debt overnight. Of course this will cause other problems, but as long as we are pretending China is a currency manipulator being undervalued by 4-9%, whilst ignoring Australia and Japan, why are we really worried about the debt ceiling? The expansion of the import-export divergence will reverse over the next 7 years with China, as China brings its currency to equilibrium value (and in the slow process avoids rapid export sector harm). Then the gap should start to narrow. Maybe the problem really isn’t the ceiling, as it is tariff policies like sugar (that make it cheaper to use HFCS – which is linked to diabetes) and corn dumping.

    Reagan said we get more done if we don’t care about who gets credit. Ironic that he is credited, but nevertheless true. I suspect it comes down to Keynesian economics and living above our means generally, with the rich 1% saving too much of their dang money instead of consuming. No easy answer today.

  7. KP says:

    @al-Ameda: I think the elections are too close together anyway, especially in the House. By the time they move their boxes in, they have to start grandstanding and campaigning again.

    Even an ability to recall an elected official would have the effect of only acting to assuage the selectorate, in which case statist behavior would prevail to the exclusion of national development. The elected officials could not go against the (potentially) myopic views of the constituents, even if for the benefit of all.