Category:  Politics

Senate Narrowly Avoids Debt Limit Crisis

The Senate met on February 12, 2014 to pass a bill that would suspend the debt limit through March 2015. Republican Senator Ted Cruz demanded a filibuster requiring 60 votes from the Senate in hopes of spurring a debate about government spending. Even if all Democrats voted to bypass the filibuster, they needed five Republicans to push it through.

Votes are generally announced in real time during Senate meetings. However, no votes were called out during this session, reportedly to encourage GOP members to change their votes with as little scrutiny as possible. Multiple Republican senators up for re-election feared that changing their vote on the bill would hurt their campaigns and create backlash from constituents.

There was incentive for passing the bill: the Senate wasn’t scheduled to meet again until after the U.S. Treasury was meant to pay the government’s bills.  Without an agreement, there was the possibility of a stock market crash or government shut down.

After an hour of negotiating, 12 Republican votes broke the filibuster with a final vote of 67 to 31. The original bill extending the debt limit was passed, lifting the debt limit until March 2015.

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