Yesterday the US House passed a debt ceiling hike that, for the first time since 2009, had no other spending or policy concessions included in it. Today the Senate followed suite.
In the House, Rep. Kevin Cramer voted against the hike saying he couldn’t approve of one without conditions attached. “I could not in good conscience vote for a debt ceiling increase without addressing the fundamental problems which have driven our debt past 17 trillion dollars,” he said in a released statement. “This amounts to a new line of credit from the bank accounts of our children. I would have voted for a debt ceiling increase which included one or any number of conditions to either grow our economy, reduce spending, or both. Throughout history, this is how the debt ceiling has been handled. I am disappointed we are at a point where the President refuses to even entertain a negotiation on the challenges of our debt in the context of asking for more borrowing authority. It is simply irresponsible to raise our debt ceiling without dealing with the underlying issues affecting our debt.”
Senator John Hoeven voted against both cloture and the bill itself, echoing Cramer in saying that he couldn’t approve of a debt ceiling hike without conditions. “I voted against the legislation to increase our debt ceiling today because it did not include savings or reforms to address the deficit and debt,” Hoeven said in a press release. “The national debt has grown to $17.2 trillion, and we need to reduce it for the sake of our country today and for the well-being of future generations. Under the Budget Control Act that Congress passed in 2011, we required reductions in spending, which have reduced discretionary spending by 35 percent, from $1.35 trillion per year to about $1 trillion. That has helped reduce our annual deficit from $1.4 trillion in 2011 to about $500 billion this year, but we must do more. We need to find more savings and reforms, which along with economic growth will enable us to overcome the deficit and reduce our debt. Those savings and reforms should have been part of this debt ceiling legislation.”
Senator Heidi Heitkamp voted with the Democrat majority both for cloture and for the bill itself. As of the time of this post, Heitkamp hasn’t yet put a statement about her vote on her website.
So why did Republicans back down from a fight over this debt ceiling hike? Probably because it’s an election year, and in the past Democrats and President Obama have tended to win these fights. Right now, with the economy continuing to stagnate and Obamacare off the rails, I doubt Republicans want to pick a fight over a debt ceiling that’s going to increase anyway, risking electoral gains for a few trivial fiscal concessions.