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Only 14 out of 50 Republican senators voted for a debt limit deal struck by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday afternoon, amid grumbling from the Senate GOP conference over how McConnell handled the fight he started over the summer.
McConnell, R-Ky., voted for the deal along with fellow members of the Senate Republican leadership team, including Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., John Barasso, R-Wyo., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa.
The leadership was joined by Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Richard Burr, R-N.C., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Shelley Moore Capito, R-WVa., Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Mitt Romney, R-Utah.
The procedurally creative deal between McConnell and Schumer, D-N.Y., used a bill preventing Medicare cuts as a vehicle for language allowing the Senate to increase the debt limit via a simple majority vote on a one time basis. The Thursday afternoon vote pushed that bill past the 60-vote cloture hurdle, setting up a simple majority vote on final passage either later Thursday or Friday.
Once that bill is signed into law by President Biden, Congress will be able to pass a debt limit increase without having to navigate a filibuster in the Senate. That enables all Republicans to vote against the actual debt limit increase when it comes to the floor, likely next week.
The agreement follows months of Republicans demanding that Democrats pass a debt ceiling increase via budget reconciliation, which would allow them to advance the bill without GOP votes in the Senate. But Schumer refused to, twice bringing the country within just a couple of weeks of a potential debt default before coming to a deal to avert it with McConnell.
McConnell argued the deal the Senate approved represents a different way of doing the same result Republicans wanted in the first place – Democrats raising the debt ceiling all by themselves, and to a certain number so Republicans can attack them for their massive government spending.
“I believe we’ve reached here, a solution… that’s consistent with Republican views of raising the debt ceiling,” to a specific number, “and allows the Democrats to proudly own it, which they’re happy to do,” McConnell said earlier this week.
Other Republicans, meanwhile, said they were not excited about the way McConnell handled the deal after the GOP staked out such a firm position on the issue.
“I’m not real keen on the idea right now, to be honest with you, because we had a red line. Let them do it. They got the votes to do it,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., told Fox News earlier this week. He also said it is important to avoid Medicare cuts, so McConnell’s deal put him “between a rock and a hard place.”
Fox News’ Kelly Phares, Jason Donner and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.