Well, that was fast.
Less than a day after the United States House of Representatives voted to give the Department of the Treasury the authority to continue paying the nation’s bills into March 2015, the Senate followed suit, in the process breaking a filibuster staged by Tea Party darling Ted Cruz of Texas, who is upset that Republicans aren’t using the threat of default to wring policy concessions out of President Obama.
The roll call on cloture from the Pacific Northwest was as follows:
Voting Aye: Democrats Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray (WA); Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley (OR); Mark Begich (AK); Jon Tester and John Walsh (MT); Republican Lisa Murkowski (AK)
Voting Nay: Republicans Jim Risch and Mike Crapo (ID)
On final passage, the roll call broke down along party lines, as it did for the whole Senate, with Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joining Jim Risch and Mike Crapo in voting no. Two Republican senators – Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma – did not participate in either vote.
Aside from Murkowski, the other Republicans who voted to invoke cloture were Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Susan Collins of Maine, Bob Corker of Tennessee, John Cornyn of Texas, John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, John Thune of South Dakota, and Mark Kirk of Illinois.
Initially, it looked like Cruz’s filibuster would not be broken, as not enough Republicans were siding with Democrats to overcome the undemocratic sixty-vote threshold. Reluctantly, Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn stepped in to break the filibuster, bringing several Republicans along with them.
They then withheld their votes on final passage and the legislation passed solely with Democratic and independent votes. It now heads to President Obama.
The White House has yet to comment on the Senate vote but we’ll update this post when they do. It’s nice to know that we don’t have to worry about the United States defaulting later this month. But Congress still needs to abolish the debt repayment ceiling. If they make appropriations, Treasury needs to be able to pay those bills. Otherwise no one will have confidence in our federal government.
UPDATE: President Obama himself has commented on the vote:
I’m pleased that Republicans and Democrats in Congress have come together to pay for what they’ve already spent, and remove the threat of default from our economy once and for all.
The full faith and credit of the United States is too important to use as leverage or a tool for extortion.
Hopefully, this puts an end to politics by brinksmanship and allows us to move forward to do more to create good jobs and strengthen the economy. Instead of wasting time creating new crises, Congress should be focused on creating new jobs and opportunities.
That’s what the American people deserve from their representatives in Washington [D.C.], and that’s what they should get.
Well said, Mr. President. Well said.