The Senate passed the debt limit bill last night, raising the ceiling on how much the government can borrow to pay for spending it’s already done, and thereby avoiding a default on the federal debt and the attendant economic disaster that would follow. The bill now goes to President Joe Biden, who will sign it today and is scheduled to address the nation this evening at 7 p.m. Eastern. We expect the speech will say something along the lines of, “Now look, for cryin’ out loud, we need to pay our bills, I mean it! None of this was necessary, and that’s why I’m invoking the 14th Amendment, I’m not joking, to make the Supreme Court rule on whether the debt limit law is even constitutional. What a load of malarkey, goodnight.”
Following the Senate vote last night, Biden actually said in a statement, “No one gets everything they want in a negotiation, but make no mistake: This bipartisan agreement is a big win for our economy and the American people,” which was far nicer.
The bill passed in the Senate on a 63 to 36 vote, enough to avoid a filibuster. Five members of the Democratic caucus — John Fetterman (Pennsylvania), Ed Markey (Massachusetts), Jeff Merkley (Oregon), Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) voted nay. (They presumably would have voted for it if necessary.) The majority of Republicans, 31 of ’em, also voted against the bill albeit for very different reasons. Only 17 Republican senators voted for the bill. I’ll note that it was a rare thing for me to see both of Idaho’s senators, Mike Crapo and the other one, voting with Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
Before the vote, the Senate debated and rejected 11 amendments to the bill, including Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine’s amendment to yeet Joe Manchin’s pet methane pipeline project out of the bill (which Manchin had somehow sneaked into the House version) and into the sun. That was the only amendment offered by a Democrat; the others were Republican attempts to demand deeper cuts to domestic spending programs than in the House bill, to increase military spending even more than the House bill did, to Git Tougher on the border, and the like.
During floor debate, several Republicans fretted that without unlimited Pentagon spending, the Russians, Chinese, or Martians might try something sneaky, or that the US would be unable to support Ukraine’s defense against Russian invasion (as far as we can tell, no Republicans rose to shout, “That’s the point!”). Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said that the defense hawks needn’t worry, and that the debt ceiling bill
does nothing to limit the Senate’s ability to appropriate emergency supplemental funds to ensure our military capabilities are sufficient to deter China, Russia and our other adversaries, and respond to ongoing and growing national security threats, including Russia’s evil ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine.
Schumer added that the bill wouldn’t limit Congress’s ability to pass emergency funding for disaster relief or other needs, either, although he failed to note that Republicans would certainly whine about such expenditures unless their own states were affected.
All told, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the spending caps in the bill would reduce federal spending by $1.5 trillion over the next decade. Reuters rather cheekily adds, “That is below the $3 trillion in deficit reduction, mainly through new taxes, that Biden proposed,” and we say good on you, Reuters.
Also, in a coda that gives us at least a satisfied smirk, Fox News reports that in an interview, Joe Manchin (D?-Methane) complained that Republicans were getting too much credit for his personal boondoggle in the bill, the fast-tracking of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The debt limit agreement forces an end to all regulatory and court challenges to Manchin’s pet project, which he has pushed since it was proposed in 2014, and by golly, Joe Manchin isn’t about to have any Republicans take the focus away from him and the ginormous favor he’s doing for the fossil-fuel industries (of which he’s not only the president, he’s also a client).
What’s the problem here? They’re afraid of who gets credit for it?” Manchin told Fox News Digital. “You know, what we said before — success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan. Well, I guarantee you, I was an orphan there for a long time because I was the only one on the front taking all the spears and everything, taking point on this.”
“But I’m happy to — everyone is happy — to share the success. I think everybody knows how this happened,” the West Virginia senator added. “I mean, my God, for the whole year I’ve had the living crap beat out of me, back and forth and everything.”
Now there’s a man who loves sharing the spotlight, as long as nobody else is right in the center. Manchin also whined that it really pissed him off something fierce that Republicans might get any credit (which he’s happy to share, but not) since it was his hard work and stubborn assholishness that won over or exhausted the White House in negotiations, and where were Republicans the other times he tried to ram through a bunch of fossil fuel projects, huh?
“It’s bulls— because they knew there was not going to be a problem on the Democratic Senate side or the Democrat president and his staff because they were the ones who supported it and got us 40 votes in the Senate when we voted,” Manchin said.
“It was the Republicans that killed us when we voted last time — only got seven votes. And the Republicans have always supported permitting. The only reason they wouldn’t support that is because of the Republicans being upset about the [Inflation Reduction Act]. That’s it. So it got caught in the politics.”
Still, you have to be impressed by the bipartisan outreach, calling Joe Biden a “Democrat president” just like the Fox News analyst he’s destined to become following his Senate career.
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