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Reid Spokesman Explains Secrecy in Debt Limit Vote

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Republicans requested that the Senate clerk not call out how Republicans were voting on Wednesday’s key debt limit vote to make it easier for GOP leaders to convince their colleagues to change their votes, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday.  

“After the vote began, it was quickly clear that Republican leaders were struggling to deliver enough votes to clear the 60-vote hurdle upon which they had insisted instead of a simple majority, and a potentially catastrophic default suddenly seemed possible,” Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson told CQ Roll Call in a statement. “At Senate Republicans’ request, the clerk did not call the names during the vote to make it easier for Republican leaders to convince their members to switch their votes.”  

A vote tally sheet obtained by CQ Roll Call suggests six Senate Republicans switched their votes on the cloture motion . Earlier Thursday, Capitol Hill reporters protested the decision  to keep the votes secret during the nearly hourlong tally.  

Reid went along, Jentleson said.  

Here is the rest of his statement:

“Senator Reid believed that protecting the full faith and credit of the United States and avoiding a default that could have disastrous consequences for anyone with a bank account were the most important objectives. For this reason and as a courtesy to his Republican colleagues, he consented to Republicans’ request. As always, the Senate floor was open to the public, the press was free to observe the proceedings from their vantage point in the chamber, and the proceedings were broadcast live and unedited on CSPAN2.

“Senator Reid takes transparency very seriously and is aware of the legitimate concerns that have been raised. Senator Reid values the opinions of the professional members of the media who work hard every day to keep the public informed, and has instructed his staff to work with members of the media and the relevant organizations to get their full input on this issue and seek to address any concerns.”

“Senator Reid also wants to express his appreciation for the Republican senators who stepped forward to join Democrats in protecting the full faith and credit of the United States.”

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

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