On March 16, 2006, the Senate held a vote on a measure to raise the debt ceiling by $781 billion — the fourth such vote of George W. Bush’s presidency. Republicans controlled the Senate, and Democrats spent much of the debate railing against Bush’s spending. “When it comes to deficits, this president owns all the records,” said Reid. “The three largest deficits in our nation’s history have all occurred under this administration’s watch.”

Declaring themselves outraged by such spending, Reid, Durbin, Schumer, and Murray all voted against raising the debt limit. So did every other Democrat — including Sen. Barack Obama. But on Friday, the four lawmakers urged now-President Obama not only to raise the ceiling but to do it in a constitutionally risky fashion by going over the head of Congress.