Enter Ted Cruz
Unfortunately for the GOP, the vote in the Senate did not go as smoothly as it did in the House. Senator Ted Cruz, the very outspoken and often abrasive leader of the conservative Tea Party, would not give up quietly. For those of you who don’t remember, Cruz is the same man who demanded that a debt provision that would gut Obamacare funds be added onto the spending bill that would allow the government to continue running. And once again, he vocalized the same position of no compromise.
While his contemporaries in the GOP decided to allow the bill to be put to a final vote with no issue, Cruz began to filibuster. Rather than allow a simple majority to vote on the bill, Cruz demanded that the Senate reach a 60 vote threshold in order to move forward with the debt-ceiling measure. This put the Republicans in the Senate between a rock and a hard place. To stay with Cruz and his filibustering would cast a negative light upon the GOP as being obstructionists who were willing to let America default on it’s loans rather than compromise. But for any Republican who was willing to vote to move ahead with the bill, they could face intense scrutiny from their constituents and peers for supporting the Democrats.
The Rock or the Hard Place
Faced with this dilemma, a few Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (shown below), decided that they had to bite the bullet and change their vote in favor for moving forward with the bill. In total, a dozen Republicans voted against Cruz, allowing the bill to move to the final vote, where it passed by a vote of 55 to 43.
Soo…What Happens Next?
Response to the Debt Ceiling being raised has been varied depending on which party representatives you talk to. The Democrats see this as a huge victory and step forward for the government.
As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid put it, ‘It is encouraging that some of my Republican colleagues seem to be regaining their grip on sanity this week.’
Meanwhile, the GOP camp is not so optimistic over the outcome of the debt ceiling issue. Ted Cruz specifically, was very upset that the Republicans did not stand united with him in opposing a clean debt ceiling measure. He went off on Senator McConnel, arguing that McConnel’s state Kentucky, could not afford to have a representative like him. Conservative groups have voiced their displeasure at McConnell, publicly stating that he should be voted out of office at the next election period.
Other Republicans however, were not happy at Cruz for forcing them into such a difficult position. They argued that Cruz was vocal about opposing the bill, but offered no alternative solution or legislation. Many of the Republican Senators praised McConnell for being willing to compromise and look beyond political squabbling. However the GOP has not definitively swung it’s support to either Cruz of McConnell. In fact it seems that the debt ceiling bill had only caused more infighting in the GOP.
It will definitely be interesting to see how this affects the elections and who will be back in office next year. Whether or not this divides the GOP and weakens their attempt to win more seats in Congress remains to be seen. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
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