Open thread: Senate to vote on House-passed debt deal at noon Update: Senate passes debt deal, 74-26 Update: President ends this saga, signs debt deal

posted at 11:20 am on August 2, 2011 by Tina Korbe

After a dramatic night in the House of Representatives last night, the disappointment of a debt deal that passed the House heads to the Senate, where it faces seemingly fewer obstacles than it faced in the House.

But that doesn’t mean passage will be “easy.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said no amendments will be allowed and the plan requires a supermajority of 60 votes to pass. One notable “no” vote will come from Senate Budget Committee ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). The senator who has been sounding the warning bell about an eleventh hour deal for months — and who has kept the count as to how many days the Senate has gone without passing a budget resolution (825!) — explains why he can’t support the deal:

“We’re getting pretty far away from the traditions of this body when you don’t publicly debate a budget, you create a committee of limited numbers of people to produce legislation that can’t be amended,” Sessions says in the video. “For those reasons, I feel like as a Senator and the ranking member on the Budget Committee who’s wrestled with this for some time, I would not be able to support the legislation. Though, I truly believe it is a step forward, and I respect my colleagues who’ve worked hard to try to bring it forward.”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), whose name has become almost synonymous with the push for a balanced budget amendment, is still a “no” vote, as is Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) remain “yes” votes, of course.

Senate Democrat opposition to the deal doesn’t rival Democrat opposition in the House, where Rep. Emanuel Cleaver created news by calling the deal a “sugar-coated satan sandwich” and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi implied it also features “satan fries on the side.” But I’ll keep an eye out for any likely “no” votes from the left side of the aisle.

Again, though, the bill is broadly expected to pass. Bill Hemmer just said the guidance Fox News has received suggests the Senate will give it at least 70 votes — so it won’t even be close. After that, attention will turn to the 12-member special commission.

Meanwhile, rumors of a downgrade despite the deal continue to circulate.

Update I: Reid is on the Senate floor right now, saying, “We were on the brink of disaster, but, one day before the deadline, we were able to avert that disaster. … There’s principally one winner through all of this: the American people. … The result of this Tea Party direction of this Congress has been very disconcerting. It stopped us from arriving at a conclusion much sooner. …”

Here’s more of his anti-Tea Party rhetoric. In this video, he calls out the Senate freshmen (think Rubio, Rand, Ayotte, etc.), who as a group have done a far better job of calling on the Senate to do its duty and produce a budget than the Senate Majority Leader ever has:

Update II: Bill Hemmer just tweeted and AP reports that 60 senators have already voted “yes” for the deal, which means it passes. But the roll call continues. Guy Benson tweets that four Democrats have voted “no” so far: Sen. Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.), Sen. Tom Harkin (Iowa) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT).

Update III: The deal has passed, 74 to 26. Three more Dem “no” votes: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Sen. Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.). Now awaiting the president’s speech from the Rose Garden …

Update IV: In his Rose Garden speech, the president issued veiled instructions to the deficit-reduction joint committee created by the debt deal — instructions that amounted to, “Raise taxes.” For more, see my upcoming post in just a bit.

Update V: The president just signed the debt deal. Aaaannnddd … it’s over. For now. For those who are interested, here’s the Senate roll call.


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