Senate Republicans back one-time filibuster exemption for Democrats to raise debt ceiling
Fourteen Senate Republicans crossed party lines on Thursday to push forward legislation creating a unique filibuster exclusion so Democrats can unilaterally increase the country’s borrowing limit.
Led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the 14 Republicans voted alongside the 50 Senate Democrats to end debate on the subject. This decision allowed the Senate to pass the exclusion later in the day.
GOP lawmakers have said the one-time exclusion is a victory because it prompts Democrats to raise the debt ceiling, a cap on how much the government can borrow to pay for federal spending, on their own.
“The whole country understands that the Democrats own this mess,” McConnell said. “They have taken over the economy by one party, so you had better believe that they will have single party responsibility for the resulting nightmare.”
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, called the deal a “responsible way forward.” No mess, no default on debt, no risk of another recession.
A wide range of GOP lawmakers have joined Mr McConnell in helping push the measure forward.
Votes in favor came from senior leaders, such as Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota and Republican Senate Conference Speaker John Barrasso of Wyoming. Senator John Cornyn of Texas, a former GOP whip, also supported moving the bill forward.
Other supporters of the measure included Senators Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Susan Collins of Maine, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Joni Ernst of Iowa and Mitt Romney. from Utah.
A group of retired GOP lawmakers, including Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Roy Blunt of Missouri, provided the remainder of the votes.
Helping Republicans support the exclusion was that it was attached to a bigger bill preventing automatic cuts to health insurance that are expected to take effect gradually from January.
“I will vote to go ahead. I don’t want our cuts to medicare to take effect, ”Ms. Capito said. “I am not raising the debt ceiling.”
Typically, increasing the debt limit requires at least 60 votes to overcome house filibuster rules. Under the proposal worked out between Mr McConnell and Mr Schumer, Democrats would benefit from a one-time obstruction clause to raise the debt ceiling by a simple majority of 51 votes.
Senate Republicans further said the deal also required Democrats to stipulate a dollar amount by which they wanted to raise the debt ceiling. They claim that transparency will show the American people the true cost of President Biden’s agenda.
“Every Democrat in the Senate will have to put his name on the gigantic amount of debt he is prepared to accumulate on the American people,” said Mr. McConnell.
Not all Republicans felt that way. Thirty-six GOP senators voted against the measure, arguing that Democrats should increase the debt ceiling themselves through budget reconciliation. The process, which Democrats are using to advance President Biden’s roughly $ 1.75 trillion climate and social protection bill, allows certain tax and spending measures to be passed by the Senate at simple majority.
“I think it was a mistake,” said Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas.
Sen. Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama, described the exclusion as the GOP’s retreat from its long-held position.
“It seems to me that we came back… we said, ‘We’re going to let them do it. [using] reconciliation. We’re not going to help them do it, ”said Shelby, usually an ally of GOP leaders. “But now we’re doing it, so that has changed. “
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned the country would risk defaulting on its debts if the debt ceiling hike is not passed by December 15.