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Debt Bill Will See Senate Action, Reid Says

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday that he will take up a short-term debt limit increase approved by the House, saying the measure “defuses yet another fight over the debt ceiling.”

The Nevada Democrat’s support for the measure puts Senate Democrats in line with the White House, which offered a tepid official endorsement of the plan Tuesday.

When asked whether he would “simply take it up and pass it as is,” Reid told reporters at a news conference, “Yes.”

Senate Democratic leaders also attempted to take some of the wind out of the sails of GOP messaging on the budget Wednesday by announcing they were committed to doing a budget resolution this year in regular order, a move they have been reluctant to make for almost three years.

New Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., called the House’s No Budget, No Pay Act, which is serving as the vehicle for the short-term debt limit agreement, as “red meat to the tea party.”

“Whatever,” she said dismissively.

House Democrats, however, were not as supportive of the short-term debt limit extension and provided 86 of the “no” votes in the 285-144 vote.

Still, many Democrats and the White House praised the House GOP’s decision to move on the short-term extension as a victory, explaining that the measure was a sign Republicans have dropped their demands to extract $1 of cuts for every $1 dollar the debt limit is raised.

In a statement, Reid praised Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio for engineering approval of a bill that “surrenders the hostage Republicans have taken in the past by decoupling the full faith and credit of the United States from cuts to Social Security and Medicare, or anything else. In substance, this is a clean debt limit increase that will set the precedent for future debt ceiling extensions.”

But Republicans are framing Wednesday’s action on the House floor as just delaying the bigger debt fight until mid-May so that it comes after Congress figures out a way forward on a bill to avert government shutdown or roll back scheduled across-the-board cuts dictated by the Budget Control Act.

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

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