Senate Votes 60-39 to Increase Debt Ceiling
The Senate voted along party lines Thursday to pass a $1.9 trillion increase to the government’s debt limit after also voting on an amendment to enact pay-as-you-go budgeting rules. Senators voted 60-39 in favor of debt ceiling increase. That vote came after the Senate approved the PAYGO amendment, offered by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).“As the president pointed out last night, pay-as-you-go in the 1990s led to record surpluses. Its absence in the next decade led to record deficits,— Reid said on the floor. “If we are to create jobs and govern responsibly, pay-as-you-go must be one of the rules of that road.—Budget ranking member Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) criticized the PAYGO language and blasted the hike in the debt limit. “It is not responsible to raise the debt ceiling in this manner if you’re not going to put in place any responsibility to rein in control on dealing with the debt,— Gregg said. “This is not correct.—Earlier in the week, the Senate narrowly rejected an amendment by Gregg and Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) to create a Congressionally appointed commission to address deficit reduction. President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that he would issue an executive order to create a presidentially appointed commission modeled after the Conrad-Gregg proposal. Even with the adoption of the PAYGO amendment and Obama’s announcement on the commission, Democrats were unsuccessful in wooing a handful of Republican votes for the debt package. The $1.9 trillion increase in the debt ceiling is expected to allow the government to continue spending the rest of the year. The House passed a $925 billion debt limit increase last year. The Senate’s approval of a $1.9 trillion increase in a substitute bill sponsored by Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) means the House will now have to revisit the issue. “We have gone to the restaurant, we have eaten the meal. Now the question is whether we will pay the check,— Baucus told his colleagues just before the final vote. “We must pay our bills. We must pay our debts. We must pass this legislation.—Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) was the only Senator who didn’t vote on the debt limit hike.