Tense Debt-Ceiling Vote Sets Stage for Tougher Fight

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GOP lawmakers were reluctant to back a short-term deal, seeing it as a reversal

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Mr McConnell pitched the deal as removing Democrats’ excuses that they did not have enough time to write and pass a long-term debt-limit bill without the GOP’s help, through a complicated process called It’s called reconciliation. While removing the threat of default for the time being, it has angered many GOP senators for what they saw as a shameful reversal. He aired his grievances before the vote and in a closed-door meeting on the Senate floor.

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“I think it was a mistake for the Republican leadership to give in to the other side’s demands for political terrorism, hostage-taking and political terrorism, because it greatly damages the credibility of the Republican convention,” Sen said. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) in a floor speech. “Democratic leaders are undoubtedly saying to every Democrat senator, ‘You see? They’re not going to take their stand. They’ll give in.'”

Lindsey Graham (R., SC) of the Democrats’ spending plans said, “They have every right to push it, and as Republicans we have every right to make it difficult.” “Here’s to a last-minute change of heart, but we’ll do it again in December.”

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The debt ceiling is one of several key deadlines facing a bitterly divided Congress in the coming months. Federal Transportation Program funding will expire on October 31, which is also the deadline for House Democratic leadership to pass a nearly $1 trillion infrastructure bill, along with a $3.5 trillion safety-net package proposed by President Biden. The new loan limit is expected to be reached by December 3, the same date when government funding will run out, raising the stakes even higher.

Those timeframes established performance not only between the two parties, but also within each party, as Republicans and Democrats tussle among themselves over price tags, policy decisions, and overall strategy. On the Democratic side, differences broke out into the open this week with liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va). Biden’s proposed social policy and climate package.

In Republicans’ debt-limit battle, the Senate GOP leadership had to lean heavily on its own votes and on some close allies and moderates to pull the deal McConnell proposed across the finish line. The bill now goes to the House, which is expected to pass next week, and the White House has said the president will sign it.

Sen. John Thune, Mr McConnell’s No. 2, compared the difficulty of securing the vote to a “painful birth process”. After a day of uncertainty, he emerged from the GOP meeting assuring reporters that the leadership had the votes they needed, even as former President Donald Trump called the deal a surrender.

In the end, Mr Thun was one of 11 Republicans who voted yes, even though he is up for re-election next year. In a tense scene, he and Mr McConnell hovered over the vote tally in the Senate well and watched their aides closely as they came forward to move their thumbs up or down.

Democratic whip Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), said watching Republicans struggle to scrape together 11 votes he worried about what would happen in December, when both government funding and debt limits are set to expire. Huh.

“Playing the game with debt limits is a disastrous political strategy,” said Mr Durbin. “McConnell realized it yesterday. I hope he doesn’t try to do that again.”

Underlining the difficult task of GOP leaders, half of the 11 Republicans who voted to push the bill were members of the Senate GOP leadership team or part of Mr. McConnell’s inner circle. As minority leader, McConnell was among the first to vote, including Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas), the former Republican whip, and Mr. Thune, the current Republican whip.

Also yes there were voting sens. John Barrasso (R., Vy.), Rob Portman (R., Ohio), Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), Susan Collins (R., Maine), Richard Shelby (R., Ala.), Roy Blunt (R., Mo.), Shelley Moore Capito (R., W.Va.) and Mike Rounds (R., SD).

Mr. Barrasso leads the Republican convention, and Mr. Blunt is the policy president. Three of the 11 are retiring and will not face voters again: Blunt, Shelby and Portman. Ms. Collins and Ms. Murkowski are centrist swing votes in their caucuses and both have a history of enabling debt-limit increases when necessary, as they did in 2014. Ms Capito is a moderate and close to Mr McConnell.

Mr Rounds, a former governor, is from Mr Thune’s home state. He told reporters shortly before the polls that leaders were still talking to him to garner his support.

“What I think is the disappointment is that leadership hasn’t been given so much attention – it’s finding ourselves once again in a position to try to deal with what we think is an increase in spending that we Disagree,” while also ensuring that the country does not default, Mr Rounds said.

After the vote, Republicans sat as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., NY) accused him in a speech of bringing the country to the brink of default in order to score political points. Mr Manchin, sitting behind Mr Schumer, hissed uncomfortably. At one point, he covered his face with both hands.

Mr Manchin later told reporters he disagreed with Mr Schumer’s speech. Republicans who had just taken the tough vote also complained, with Rounds telling reporters the speech was “classless” and Thune calling it inappropriate.

Democrats were defying the Republican hold.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) tweeted, “Just untrue that they thought they deserved applause for economic disaster and then, at the last minute, voted the absolute minimum number of votes to avoid it.”

write to Lindsay Wise [email protected] . Feather


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