Temporary Suspension of Debt Limit – Final Passage – Vote Passed (64-34, 2 Not Voting)
The federal debt limit will have no force or effect until May 19, thanks to Senate action last week to clear a House-passed measure for President Obama’s signature. In addition to suspending the debt limit, the bill commits the Senate (and the House) to passing a budget resolution for the first time in four years, under pain of its members having their paychecks withheld. Before the bill could pass, Democrats had to table several Republican amendments from Rob Portman of Ohio, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Rand Paul of Kentucky and David Vitter of Louisiana (Roll Call Votes 6-10). Portman offered two amendments: the first would have require that any bill to raise the debt limit include non-interest spending cuts of an equal or greater amount; the second would have cut discretionary spending by one percent every three or four months if Congress does not agree to a budget resolution by October 1, 2013. Toomey’s amendment would have prioritized certain accounts for receipt of payment in the event Congress did not raise the debt limit, placing debt interest, Social Security and military personnel at the front of the line. The Paul amendment would have banned the transfer of certain weapons systems such F-16 fighter jets to Egypt. The Vitter amendment would have introduced spending cuts to the bill. All but the Paul amendment, which had very little support, split the Senate exactly along party lines. Democrats rejected each amendment unanimously except the second Portman amendment, which attracted the support of Kay Hagan (N.C.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Jon Tester (Mont.).