The Senate voted Thursday on cloture for a bill that will allow lawmakers to lift the debt ceiling before the December 15 deadline using only Democratic votes.
In a vote of 64 to 36, 14 Republicans joined the Democrats in a procedural vote on a bill that delays Medicare sequestration cuts for three months that also contains a provision that allows for the debt ceiling to be raised one time using a simple majority.
The vote continues a multi-step process to fast-track a debt ceiling hike, after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell struck a deal earlier this week to avert the nation going into default.
Schumer thanked McConnell for playing ball and said on the Senate floor Thursday that their conversations were ‘fruitful, candid, productive’ and said this was the ‘responsible’ action to take.
Fourteen Republicans joined the Democrats Thursday to vote for a bill that contained a provision that will allow the Senate to pass a debt ceiling hike before the December 15 deadline using only Democratic votes
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer thanked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell prior to the vote saying their conversations were ‘fruitful, candid, productive’ and said this was the ‘responsible’ action to take
Thursday’s vote will need to still be followed by a Senate vote and then a House vote on the actual debt ceiling raise.
Republicans who joined the Democrats included McConnell and Sens. John Thune, John Barrasso, Shelley Moore Capito, Roger Wicker, Susan Collins, Roy Blunt, Thom Tillis, Lisa Murkowski, Richard Burr, Joni Ernst, John Cornyn, Mitt Romney and Rob Portman.
Other Republicans have grumbled about the deal, having hoped that McConnell would force Democrats to use the more cumbersome process of reconciliation to push up the debt ceiling.
Critics, including former President Donald Trump, have pressed McConnell to drag out the process, with Trump incorrectly believing it would thwart Democratic efforts to push President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill.
‘So Mitch McConnell has the greatest hand, the greatest, the best, this is such an easy negotiation to kill the “Build Back Worse” plan of Biden. … And we have a thing called the debt ceiling. And this morning, I hear he gave it up,’ Trump claimed on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show Wednesday.
‘He gave it up for practically nothing. He could have used the debt ceiling card … the debt ceiling is phychological. This is not physchological. This is fact. This will destroy our country, the fabric of the country as we know it,’ Trump said of Biden’s Build Back Better plan.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, seen speaking at a service for the late Sen. Bob Dole earlier Thursday, agreed to a debt ceiling deal with Schumer that left some members of his party grumbling
Democrats already planned to use the reconciliation – which allows them to bypass a Republican filibuster threat – to get the $1.75 trillion bill over the line, so holding up the debt ceiling process would only create a delay.
Schumer has said he wants Build Back Better passed by Christmas.
Other Republicans feared that allowing Democrats to bypass the filibuster one time by adding a provision to a separate bill, would open the door for more carve-outs down the road.
Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, warned it could ‘neuter the Senate.’
‘IT IS AKIN TO “NUKING THE FILIBUSTER!”‘ he tweeted in all caps.
Still, 10 Republican votes were needed to push the process forward.
Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, argued that Republicans were still giving Democrats assistance – even if GOP senators won’t be needed for the final vote on the debt ceiling.
‘I don’t think Republicans should be facilitating adding trillions in debt,’ the Texas Republican said, according to Wednesday’s Playbook.
Over on the House side, GOP Rep. Kevin Brady, the ranking member of the House Ways and Means committee, complained that the deal mucked up what should have been a bipartisan Medicare bill, calling it a ‘poison pill.’
‘You wrecked a bipartisan agreement for your debt ceiling crisis,’ Brady said Tuesday night on the floor.
On Tuesday night, the House passed the Medicare-debt ceiling bill Tuesday night with a vote of 222 to 212, with the support of just one Republican, retiring GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger.
The debt ceiling has generally been voted on by members of both parties, as the debt was taken on by both Republican and Democratic presidents.
But McConnell, with few cards in his hand with Democrats controlling the White House and both houses of Congress, decided earlier this year to make it a hurdle for his Democratic colleagues – telling them they must raise the debt ceiling alone.
Republicans are eager to use the debt issue – as they did in the 2010 midterms to take Congress away from the Democrats – against the Democrats in Congressional races next year.
McConnell argued that the deal struck with Schumer still sticks to that.
‘The red line is intact,’ McConnell said. ‘The red line is that you have a simple majority party-line vote on the debt ceiling. That’s exactly where we will end up.’