Congress Plans to Begin Debt Ceiling Negotiations One Hour Before Deadline

WASHINGTON — In a joint statement, Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today announced that both chambers of Congress will begin debating and negotiating a solution to the looming debt ceiling crisis exactly one hour before the crisis hits and destroys the American economy.

“Secretary Geithner has informed us that while the government reached the debt ceiling on December 31, the Treasury Department can, through something he called ‘math,’ avoid actually having to pay our bills until midnight on February 28,” said Boehner, his eyes misty with tears. “At that time, unless the debt ceiling is raised, the United States will begin defaulting on its financial obligations, crippling the world’s economy. To prevent this catastrophe, I am fully prepared to sit down with President Obama and tackle this issue at or around 11:00 p.m. on February 28.”

Senator Reid echoed his colleague’s sense of urgency, saying, “We can’t futz around on this one. For the sake of our country, we must put politics aside and come together. At the very last minute.”

With the passing of the bipartisan fiscal cliff deal negotiated by Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on New Year’s Day averting major tax increases on 99% of the population, which were set to have taken place a day earlier on New Year’s Eve, Washington D.C. turned its collective eyes to the oncoming debt ceiling fight, hoping that disaster could be avoided without the usual political drama. Today’s announcement seems to have allayed those fears.

“It’s comforting to hear both sides of the debate recognizing the severity of this issue,” said Slate’s Matthew Yglesias. “Planning months ahead of time to ignore a crisis and then swoop in at the last second and paste together a deal neither side likes is what governing is all about. It really looks like they’ve learned their lesson.”

When asked by a reporter if congressional leadership would consider opening negotiations even earlier, Reid rolled his eyes and shook his head. “You people just don’t get it, do you?” He said. “Just like in ‘Star Trek,’ where the auto-destruct sequence on the Enterprise has to count down all the way to one before being deactivated, modern governance simply cannot function unless it is continually a single heartbeat away from self-immolation.”