The GOP tax law unintentionally created the potential for a huge disaster if Congress doesn’t act

House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer Mark Wilson/Getty Images

  • The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the deadline for Congress to raise the debt ceiling is now in early March instead of early April.
  • The deadline is pushed up because of changes to tax receipts from the GOP tax law.
  • That would put the debt limit deadline close to the deadline to codify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program.
  • Both issues are politically divisive, and adding the two together could be a recipe for disaster.

Republicans cheered the passage of their massive tax overhaul in December, but the new law could unintentionally cause a serious headache for their leaders by March.

According to a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, decreased tax receipts stemming from new law required a change to the projected debt ceiling deadline.

“CBO previously projected that the extraordinary measures would be exhausted and the Treasury would run out of cash sometime in late March or early April 2018,” the CBO report said. “After incorporating the anticipated effects of recent tax legislation and actual spending and revenue amounts in December into its calculations, CBO now projects the range of possible dates as falling earlier in March.”

The revised timeline could cause lawmakers to speed up often-contentious debt ceiling negotiations. And it also runs the risk of complicating immigration negotiations.

The deadline for Congress to codify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program into law is March 5, potentially setting up a massive conflict if Congress does not address immigration prior to the deadline.

DACA has been a key Democratic priority since President Donald Trump announced he would end the program in September with a six-month window for Congress to pass a law to preserve the program. Republicans also expressed a desire to maintain the program, but legislation that would do so does not have enough support in both the House and Senate right now.

With the two sides still far apart on the issue, it is highly unlikely parties reach a solution by the next government funding deadline on February 8. That means the DACA fight will continue to slip closer to its early March deadline.

If that happens, the debt ceiling and DACA negotiations could be forced into one big fight.

Given the divisive nature of the two issues, entangling the duo increases risks not only the expiration of the DACA program but also a disastrous default on some of the federal debt. Already, conservatives in the House and Senate have signalled they will oppose a DACA solution and a debt ceiling increase.

Both issues carry risks. On immigration, letting the DACA program expire could endanger protections for approximately 700,000 unauthorised immigrants who were brought to the US as minors.

On the debt, a default on the US debt would send shockwaves throughout the global economy and potentially cause chaos in financial markets.

“Already, the dire effects of the GOP Tax Scam’s giveaways are being exposed,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said. “Far from paying for itself, as Republicans promised, the GOP’s fevered push to pad the pockets of corporations and the wealthiest one per cent is exploding the deficit.”