News Column

Ted Cruz Vows to Block Simple Majority on Debt Ceiling

February 12, 2014

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ted cruz
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (file photo)

Ted Cruz says he'll demand the Senate require 60 votes to raise the U.S. debt ceiling with no conditions, vowing no simple majority for the bill in his chamber.

"Under no circumstances will I agree to the Senate's raising the debt ceiling with just 50 votes. I intend to object and force a 60-vote threshold," the Texas Republican told reporters ahead of a possible Wednesday vote to suspend the debt ceiling with no strings attached and let the government borrow until March 16, 2015.

The vote would come 15 days before a Feb. 27 deadline Treasury Secretary Jack Lew set for Congress to increase the Treasury's borrowing authority or risk a U.S. default on more than $17 trillion in federal debt.

But the vote might instead get put off for two weeks, Senate aides said.

A snowstorm is expected to hit Washington late Wednesday, a day before Congress is to start a 13-day recess.

Many lawmakers want to leave Washington ahead of the storm, the aides said.

Postponing the vote until Congress returns Feb. 26 would require 11th-hour Senate action a day before the deadline Lew set.

"The precise timing [of the Senate's debt-ceiling vote] is not terribly consequential," Cruz told reporters. "What matters is the threshold of 60 votes and not 50."

He called on fellow Republican senators to stand as one "and do the right thing" by not voting to raise the government's borrowing authority.

"We should have every Republican stand together and follow the responsible course of action, which is to insist on meaningful spending reforms before raising the debt ceiling," Cruz said.

The Democratic caucus, which is widely expected to support the "clean" debt-ceiling bill, accounts for 55 of the Senate's 100 members.

This means at least five Republicans would need to join with Democrats to advance the bill to passage.

Centrist-minded Republicans -- including Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois -- were quoted by Politico as saying Tuesday they were undecided on how they would vote.

Other Senate Republicans said they were unhappy with a clean increase.

"I'd prefer to get something for it," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told the Hill. "This is not going the way I would like it to."

"Am I going to vote for it? Hell no!" said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. "Isn't there some middle ground between defaulting on our debt and doing nothing to address our fiscal problems?"

The Senate vote would follow a House vote to suspend the debt ceiling until March 15, 2015, with no conditions.

The 221-201 vote late Tuesday followed a capitulation by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who had led a fight to require any debt-ceiling increase be paired with spending cuts of equal size or with other conservative policy demands.

But he told reporters Tuesday he couldn't assemble the needed 218 GOP votes to pass a bill containing his latest bid, which would have linked the debt increase to the restoration of some military pensions.

"It's a disappointing moment," Boehner told reporters before the House vote.

"This is a lost opportunity," he said.

Afterward, Boehner started singing "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" when talking with reporters to show he was upbeat, the Washington Post said.


Original headline: Cruz vows to force 60 votes on debt ceiling

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