The GOP could be in a real crisis.
After losing the White House, the party has a huge opportunity to recapture the public’s trust.
But it could be headed for an even bigger crisis in 2018.
The country is in uncharted waters, and Republicans could find themselves in the same boat.
This week, the Senate voted down a bill that would have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The House passed the measure, but the Senate rejected it.
The defeat in the Senate was not unexpected: Democrats were expected to block the bill.
Republicans also failed to pass a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act and did not pass a spending bill to keep the government funded past the Sept. 30 deadline.
A series of setbacks has left the GOP scrambling for answers.
What happens if Congress does not agree to an extension of the debt limit and is unable to pass any other major legislation?
Will there be a government shutdown?
And what will happen if the GOP loses the White house?
Here are six questions that may be answered in 2018 and beyond.
Will Democrats block the debt ceiling extension?
The Senate voted on the debt-ceiling extension in June, but it failed to overcome a filibuster.
Democrats want to extend the limit for as long as possible, but GOP senators are skeptical of extending it as long.
Democrats have said that Republicans should not use a debt ceiling fight as a political ploy.
But GOP senators have said they will not back down from a demand for an extension if Democrats block it.
If the debt has been reduced for too long, that could make Republicans vulnerable in the next election.
How could Democrats block an extension?
A filibuster in the House of Representatives can block an amendment.
But the Senate is more likely to pass an extension.
The Senate could vote to increase the debt in the upcoming spending bill by a single earmark, a move that could allow the bill to pass with a simple majority.
Democrats would be more likely than Republicans to vote to raise the debt if they think Republicans are willing to extend it beyond the Oct. 15 deadline.
That would allow the debt to be paid down in the coming year, as Congress has been doing.
How will Republicans respond to an attempt to use a shutdown to force votes on an extension or budget?
Republicans could try to force the Senate to take a vote on an increase in the debt or a spending increase to keep funding the government past the Oct, 15 deadline without a vote.
If Republicans succeed, they could be forced to use the threat of a government default to force a vote in the lame duck session.
If Democrats refuse to accept an extension, Republicans could use a new tactic, called a “clean continuing resolution” or CR.
CRs would require the Senate’s approval for any new spending bills, but would also include a clause to allow Congress to raise taxes without Democratic support.
A CR could be used to force Democrats to vote for an appropriations bill, which could force a shutdown.
Democrats might also vote to fund the government in the event of a default, though it would likely require an agreement with Republicans to make that happen.
The only way that Democrats would agree to such an agreement would be if Republicans agreed to allow Democrats to override a filibuster in order to raise revenue.
Democrats are also opposed to allowing the debt increase to be used as leverage to force Democratic support for a spending deal, though that could be an issue in the future.
What if Democrats refuse?
If Republicans block the CR, Democrats could also use the debt measure to force Republicans to accept a deal that includes a new debt ceiling increase or a budget deal.
If they are successful, Democrats would likely be able to override the Senate Democrats’ opposition to an increase by using a CR.
If that happens, Republicans would likely then use the CR to pass the spending bill that Democrats rejected.
But Republicans could also refuse to give Democrats an extension and try to use that as leverage for raising the debt by invoking a CR, which would also likely fail.
Republicans could even use the Senate Republicans’ refusal to allow an extension as leverage in a negotiation over a new spending plan.
The risk of a shutdown in 2018 is much higher than it was in 2020, when President Donald Trump refused to sign an agreement to raise a debt limit.
And Democrats are not likely to be willing to go to the negotiating table in a way that would make it easy for Republicans to get away with a debt-limit hike.
What will the debt raise be?
A new CBO report released on Wednesday found that the federal debt could rise to $1.2 trillion by 2023.
That number would be higher if the government is able to make payments on its obligations under the new debt limit agreement.
The CBO said that the current budget deal will keep the federal government operating at a current spending level of about $1 trillion a year.
But that would be a stretch.
The federal debt is expected to reach $20.2 billion by 2027, and by the end