Ted Cruz vowed yesterday that he’d object if Reid tried to make this easy for Republicans by passing the bill with a simple majority voice vote. Sixty votes or bust, said Cruz, just like it is for cloture on any other bill. Make everyone stand up and be counted. And so the suspense mounted: Could Mitch McConnell find five Republicans willing to join 55 Democrats in breaking a filibuster of a clean debt-ceiling hike?
He found 12. One of whom is named “Mitch McConnell.”
GOP Senators voting to break filibuster:
— Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) February 12, 2014
That’s the cloture vote. The vote on the final bill itself, which was academic once the filibuster was defeated, went strict party-line at 55-43. In other words, every one of the 12 who helped Democrats advance a clean debt-ceiling hike turned around and voted no on the meaningless final vote to provide themselves with a fig leaf once conservatives start attacking them as sellouts.
Republicans are, as usual, mad at Cruz:
Senate Republicans — unwilling to default on the nation’s debt but hoping to avoid voting for any debt ceiling increase — seethed at Mr. Cruz’s move, which many said was purely political and which forced them to scramble to produce at least five votes to end debate and move on to a final vote.
Senator John Hoeven, Republican of North Dakota, simply smiled when asked if he was annoyed with Mr. Cruz’s filibuster threat. “We’re working to see what we can put together, but I don’t know yet how it’s going to go,” he said.
Explain something to me: Why did McConnell and Cornyn vote yes? I realize it’s tradition for the leadership to step up and jump off the cliff on a tough vote like this (Boehner, Cantor, McCarthy, and Issa all voted for yesterday’s debt-ceiling hike in the House), but they didn’t need to set an example to get reliable squishes like Collins, Kirk, and Murkowski to cross the aisle. McCain, I’m sure, relished sticking it to Cruz by helping to beat his filibuster and called McConnell “very courageous” afterward for taking the plunge with them. But that’s my point — doubtless all 12 Republican yeses on cloture today would prefer to have Mitch McConnell back in the Senate next year than see him replaced by Matt Bevin. Why not give him and Cornyn, who’s also up for reelection, a pass on this one? Or maybe they did and McConnell and Cornyn decided that they were duty bound to vote yes anyway. Oh well. Easy lay-up for Team Bevin’s press shop.