Senate clears debt limit measure for Obama

Money will be used for Social Security benefits, government salaries, Medicare providers
Associated Press
Feb 13, 2014


After a dramatic Senate tally in which top GOP leaders cast the crucial votes, must-pass legislation to allow the government to borrow money to pay its bills cleared Congress Wednesday for President Barack Obama's signature.

The Senate approved the measure by a near party-line 55-43 vote. All of the "aye" votes came from Obama's Democratic allies.

But the vote to pass the measure was anticlimactic after a dramatic 67-31 tally — held open for more than an hour — in which the measure cleared a filibuster hurdle insisted on by tea party Republican Ted Cruz of Texas. The Senate's top two Republicans — both facing tea party challenges in their GOP primaries this year — provided crucial momentum after a knot of Republicans in the Senate well were clearly unhappy at having to walk the plank.

After Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, voted "aye" several other Republicans switched their votes in solidarity. Twelve Republicans ultimately voted to help the measure advance but the tally appeared to be in doubt for several anxious minutes.

"A lot of people stepped up and did what they needed to do," said Sen. Bob Corker. R-Tenn., who voted to advance the bill, as did Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who said: "Members didn't want to" vote for it.

Cruz' demands irritated Republicans because it forced several of them, particularly McConnell, to cast a difficult vote. McConnell faces tea party candidate Matt Bevin in a May primary, whose supporters adamantly oppose increasing the debt limit.

"In my view, every Republican should stand together against raising the debt ceiling without meaningful structural reforms to rein in our out of control spending," Cruz said.

After the tally, Cruz said he had no regrets, saying the "Senate has given President Obama a blank check."

Asked about forcing a difficult vote upon McConnell, Cruz said: "That is ultimately a decision ... for the voters of Kentucky."

The legislation would permit Treasury to borrow normally for another 13 months and then reset the government's borrowing cap, currently set at $17.2 trillion, after that.

It passed the House Tuesday after Republicans gave up efforts to use the debt ceiling measure to win concessions from Obama on GOP agenda items like winning approval of construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The measure is required so that the government can borrow to pay bills like Social Security benefits, federal salaries, and payments to Medicare and Medicaid providers.

Quick action on the debt limit bill stands in contrast to lengthy showdowns in 2012 and last fall when Republicans sought to use the critically necessary measure as leverage to win concessions from Obama. They succeeded in 2011, winning about $2 trillion in spending cuts, but Obama has been unwilling to negotiate over the debt limit since his re-election, and Wednesday's legislation is the third consecutive debt measure passed without White House concessions.

Republicans have been less confrontational after October's 16-day partial government shutdown sent GOP poll numbers skidding and chastened the party's tea party faction. Republicans have instead sought to focus voters' attention on the implementation and effects of Obama's health care law.

The measure is required so that the government can borrow to pay all of its bills, including Social Security benefits, federal salaries, payments to Medicare and Medicaid providers and interest on the accumulated debt. Congress has never failed to act to prevent a default on U.S. obligations, which most experts say would spook financial markets and spike interest rates.

Most Republicans say any increase in the debt ceiling should be accompanied by cuts to the spiraling costs of costly benefit programs like Medicare.

"We need some reform before we raise the debt ceiling. We need to demonstrate that we are taking steps that will reduce the accumulation of debt in the future," said Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, top Republican on the Budget Committee. "And the president and the Democratic Senate have just flatly refused. So they've just said, 'We'll accept no restraint on spending'."

Some Republicans seemed irked that Cruz wouldn't let the bill pass without forcing it to clear a 60-vote threshold that required some Republicans to walk the plank and help it advance..

"I'm not going to talk about that," said Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, when asked if Republicans are annoyed with Cruz.

Passage of the debt limit measure without any extraneous issues comes after House GOP leaders tried for weeks to find a formula to pass a version of their own that included Republican agenda items like approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and repeal of an element of the health care law. But a sizable faction of House Republicans simply refuse to vote for any increase in the government's borrowing abilities, which forced House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to turn to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to pass the measure on the strength of Democrats.

The debt measure permits Treasury to borrow regularly through March 15, 2015, putting the issue off until after the November elections and setting it up for the new Congress to handle next year. If Republicans take over the Senate, they're likely to insist on linking the debt ceiling to spending cuts and other GOP agenda items, but for now at least, the issue is being handled the old fashioned way, with the party of the incumbent president being responsible for supplying the votes to pass it but with the minority party not standing in the way.

"I think we will go back to the responsible way of making sure that our country does not default," said Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash.

Senate action Wednesday cleared the debt issue off of Washington's plate weeks in advance of the Feb. 27 deadline set last week by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. The debt limit was reset to $17.2 trillion after a four-month suspension of the prior, $16.7 trillion limit expired last Friday. Lew promptly began employing accounting maneuvers to buy time for Congress to act.


Pterocarya frax...

Ted Cruz...doing what is right.....for Ted Cruz!

Actually, the more I see from him, I am not so sure he isn't a decoy planted by someone to help finish off the self destruction of the Republican Party. Either go Rafael!

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I presume our opinions on this will differ (isn't that what makes a good conversation?), but who in the Democrat Party is standing up and trying to make some economic sense? The Republicans are dying, yes, but they aren't doing so because of Sen. Cruz. They are doing so because of the old, GOB bulls that should have been put to pasture a long, long time ago. This same problem is rife in the ranks of the Democrats as well and non-partisan proof as to why we need congressional term limits among other amendments to the constitution.

Cruz's intentions aside, how do YOU as the individual Pter you are, feel knowing that we are continuing our increased debt and not one member of the Democratic Party wanted to talk about ways to reduce it with this measure? Not even the vaunted and supposed economic genius of Sen. Warren reserved her "aye". How is this proper, wise, sustainable, or even ethical? For such a supposedly lauded political party, wouldn't you agree that this financial buffoonery is suicidal for it as well?

I thought that we were the ones we were waiting for, not the wimps that would gladly push our debts to the next election cycle for an increase today.


Re: "Sen. Cruz."

Looks to me like the man is doin' what he was elected to do.

(Yea, the rest of the country should be doin' as "bad" economically as TX. lol)


Credit expansionist policies will end sooner or later, either purposefully or not.

Personally: Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

"There are no answers, only choices." - "Solaris"


Doing what he was elected to do? So, you think he was elected so that he could shut down the government? I'm thinking...NO.

He is equal parts dangerous and irresponsible. When your own party opposes you, that should be a wake-up call, one would think...


[ri-spon-suh-bil-i-tee] Show IPA
noun, plural re·spon·si·bil·i·ties.
the state or fact of being responsible, answerable, or accountable for something within one's power, control, or management.
an instance of being responsible: The responsibility for this mess is yours!
a particular burden of obligation upon one who is responsible: the responsibilities of authority.
a person or thing for which one is responsible: A child is a responsibility to its parents.
reliability or dependability, especially in meeting debts or payments.
Add fiscal to that and you may get the hint. You obviously do not know what those words mean.


Re: "Doing (snip)"

Cut govt. spending. Unlike progressive-socialists who only know how to spend, spend, spend.

The Big Dog's back

When did we have a Progressive-Socialist Gov?


Re: "Progressive-Socialist"

What; you don't like BIG govt. spending, derpy?

The Big Dog's back

Once again, when did we have one?

Darwin's choice

Funny you saying that cfan, those exact same words apply to your messiah obama...


cfan says : "Doing what he was elected to do? So, you think he was elected so that he could shut down the government? I'm thinking...NO."

I do not think that not increasing the debt limit would shut down the government as the income would still flow into the treasury and that money could be spent however the government could only spend what they take in ergo if they could only spend the income received and no more I think that might be called a balanced budget. The cities, counties and states must have balanced budgets why not the federal government ?

The Big Dog's back

hz, Elizabeth Warren.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

What about her?


$20T in debt by 2016 here we come!

The feds sound like the financial idiot who says:

I still have checks in my checkbook; how can I be out of money?

U.S. GDP was $15.68T in 2012.

We're currently spending about 110% of GDP.

Annual interest payments ALONE on the debt are projected to hit $1T by 2020.

Good to see that the Repubs and the Dems can cooperate in helping to shove the U.S. economy further toward the edge of the fiscal cliff.



It's pretty simple. Let's say you earn $50,000 a year, and have $50,000 of expenses. You've been financially responsible and even have some money put away in savings. Then, your new boss (we'll call him Mr. Republican) decides to cut your salary, to $40,000.

Meanwhile, you still have $50,000 of expenses, and those things cost a little more each year. Suddenly, you're in debt, and the debt begins to grow exponentially, although you are just as fiscally responsible as you've always been.

Then your boss decides you need to buy 2 new wars, but doesn't give you any new $ to fund it, so your yearly expenses are now $70,000. Suddenly, your debt really ramps up. Then, your boss makes some really bad decisions that affect everyone. You lose half your retirement savings, and your home.

In 2009, you get a new boss who realizes that you can't pay off your debts without increased income. Unfortunately, cronies of your old boss think the only way to solve the problem of not having enough money to pay bills is to give you LESS money. It that sounds stupid, it's because it is. They push for austerity measures, and suddenly, your salary is only $25,000 a year. So, just when you need desperately need money to catch up, they choke off incoming revenue, forcing your debt to grow out of control.

Your new boss does what he can. He curbs spending about 50%, but obviously, that isn't enough. The only way to catch up is to increase your salary. It's simple: it doesn't matter how much you cut your spending, it's absolutely impossible to pay off your debt and cover your current expenses, until you have more than $25,000 coming in. Nonetheless, somehow things do get a little better, even though the cronies of the old boss still have their stranglehold on your salary (the economy). They, of course, blame your new boss for the problems they created.

Thank you for the opportunity to explain the situation in layman's terms for those conservatives who need it. I'll be glad to draw pictures, if that will help.


Yes you are right, It is simple. They have a unlimited card and nothing to pay it back later on except your money. When later hits we will get to hear you cry and moan about why your lifestyle is destroyed because the currency,Stocks with your 401k and the government is too broke to help you out because they are broke as well. Then your hindsight will kick in and hopefully you learn something about money. If you dont have it you shouldn't spend it. The money train doesn't run forever it runs on fuel, Something your god said he would get rid of.


I do have more than I will ever need and the way I have lived is different than your example. If I were making 50,000 I would not be spending 50,000 I would be spending 40,000 and putting 10,000 in investments. If my income would drop to 40,000 then I would spend maybe 33,000 and put 7,000 aside to invest and along the way I have had to make some really tough decisions and I did have to sacrifice at times but I did not spend more than I made.

I have done my finances this way several times when I made more I could spend more when I made less I would cut my budget and spend less. By continually spending more than the income would be irresponsible done by irresponsible persons that should be replaced by someone that is morally responsible and capable of doing the job.

I do not agree with Bushes fiscal policies and the Democrats do not agree with him either however they stand behind a man that is doing the same only more. If you did not agree with Bush how can you defend Obama ?

Obama talks about climate change and cites that we must change because of our children and grandchildren and what it will do to their future however what is he doing for their financial future ?

I think the spending ceiling should not be raised then we could only spend the income that is taken in ya know like having a balanced budget.


Re: "He curbs spending about 50%,"

A poorly constructed metaphor.

Often asked of you and NEVER answered:

If the deficit is being curbed, then why does the debt ceiling need to raised?

The Big Dog's back

Asked and answered 100 times. Interest and previous commitments by Repubs.


See article:

"The measure is required so that the government can borrow to pay bills like Social Security benefits, federal salaries, and payments to Medicare and Medicaid providers."

Those read like Dem programs to me, derpy.

The Big Dog's back

Good lock coaster trying to get them to comprehend that.


cfan says : "Then your boss decides you need to buy 2 new wars, but doesn't give you any new $ to fund it,"

With the backing of congress at the time the senate was controlled by the Democrats and they approved by a 77 to 23 vote while the Republican house vote was 296 to 133 so clearly it was a bipartisan vote. Your Democratic congressman could have blocked it however many of them had advised that WMD was the issue and many of them said that prior to Bush taking office so it could not have been him that lied if any president lied to them it would have been Clinton.


I don't know why they don't raise the debt limit to 100 trillion, anyone that knows how money is actually created knows that it is a mathematical impossibility that we will ever pay it off. Why not let the world give us an unlimited national credit card and go on a wild spending spree. All we are doing is making our children, grand children and future generation slaves to the spending we are enjoying. We get the government we deserve and we have voted in baffoons from both parties that could care less about your children and grand children and the circumstances they grow up in.


I used to look at my grand kids and cry of happiness. Today I look at my grand kids and cry because I know their lives are being destroyed by Pres. Obama and his followers by their reckless spending.

Peninsula Pundit

My I kindly suggest you consult a physician concerning your uncontrollable crying jags? If that's all it takes to throw you over the edge, please, get help.


A metaphor. If you are not concerned for your children and grand kids and the fiscal uncertainty that has been placed upon their backs due to the reckless spending by Pres. Obama and his merry band of spenders you are the one that needs to seek help.

Our President, of who never held a job before politics, speaks of income inequality. Two parts to income inequality, income and spending. The more our gov't spends, without control, more we all must pay in taxes at some point. It is fiscally irresponsible to continue spending at the pace our gov't has especially when the gov't relies more and more each day of the sale of T-bills and the investment in our country by foreign countries.

The Big Dog's back

jacka$$browne, you should really seek Professional help.


Been wormed yet this year? They have a new rectal procedure.

Darwin's choice

Oh, he's used to rectal procedures, he and cfan practice it daily.

Thank you, Mr. Browne, for the post of the year!!!!!!!

Dr. Information

I think its finally come to the point in the Rep party where they see how the liberal media bashes them for trying to be financially responsible, so they just caved. That and they want reelected. I also think they all are starting to realize that we are on a path of destruction with no turning back. We will never pay our debt off and one day the rest of the world will come to collect and it wont be nice.

Forward Soviet is right.


Re: "the rest of the world will come to collect,"

Some financial analysts are saying that Pres. Obama's "myRA" is a way for the poor to begin helping to fund the debt.

Kinda like Japan, where most of the debt is owned by the public.

Using Japan as an example of how to operate an economy? YIKES!

Dr. Information

Japan is in a mess and a model we should not follow.


Re: "Japan is in a mess,"

IMO, Japan is the 'canary in the coal mine.'

It could very well be the first (in a series) of the developed economies to monetarily implode.

“Abenomics” is starting to come unraveled.

Why does China continue to import gold?

The Big Dog's back

Japan? Let me think. Isn't that where the nuclear disaster is? How much is that costing the Japanese?


Re: "nuclear disaster,"

Japan's been mostly in an economic recession since the early 1990s.

Didn't Bill Maher tell ya about this derpy?


Re: "Didn't Bill Maher tell ya about this derpy?"

You really expect him to read all that? it is more than a couple of paragraphs Besides he would never understand something that he doesn't get from a comedienne.

Maher won't talk about Japan. He can't spin it to blame repubes or the tea party so it doesn't show up on either Maher's or piddle puppy's radar.

Peninsula Pundit

The bill originally contained a rider that repealed a cut in the military pension entitlement that will now take effect.
I hand it to the tea friends, when they say 'no more spending', they mean it.
Even if it affects our elderly brave heroes.
Good for them.


Re: "cut in the military pension entitlement,"

Kabuki political theater as it’s played in DC.

Nothin’ else to “cut’ eh?

Wouldn't want to 'starve' widows and orphans or some other dependent group either.

Just get Fed Resv. Chair Yellen (The Bernank II) on the phone and tell her to 'print up' a few more billion - problem solved.


Nugent / Bachman 2016!

swiss cheese kat's picture
swiss cheese kat

That would be better than the wife of a sexual predator.

The Big Dog's back

You do know teddy is one right?


Kennedy? It should be "was" and he was a murderer.


Cutting down on spending doesn't have to mean cuts to Social Security, or further cuts to Medicare (which are worthless anyway since Obamacare is resulting in a MASSIVE expansion to Medicare and Medicaid).

I suggest we start with $12,000 First Lady dresses and $1,000+ per plate state dinners. Sure, that's a drop in the bucket in relative terms. But does anybody think the multi-million dollar Obama vacations or the office redecorating or the mohair subsidy (intended to be temporary back at the time of World War II) are crucial? Really?

Apparently, it doesn't matter what I think, or what YOU think, is "necessary" as opposed to "unnecessary" spending. It doesn't matter that you and I stick to our budget and, if we can't or won't, we suffer the consequences. Congress just handed Obama a blank check. There'd better not be a single one of those ignorant "yes" votes that comes back to whine about the government being bankrupt when the time comes -- and it is!

The Big Dog's back

Really sam? Give me a break. If you right wingnuts weren't so whacked out, it wouldn't cost that much for security. But since that won't happen, I want our President secure, any President.

Darwin's choice

Maybe if the fool in the white house wasn't such a moron, he wouldn't need a "posse" of his peeps to follow him around. And you have no room to talk about being whacked out, you're the king of fools.


Where, pray tell, did I mention presidential security as a potential area for cuts? Oh, gosh, I guess I didn't! Why not? Because that's one of the few things that SHOULDN'T be cut! (Of course, if the President is secure, it'd be nice if the country was, too, and the man in the White House can't be bothered with that...)

When I talk about massive vacation costs, I'm talking about curtailing the trips all together. They can go to Camp David or to Chicago if they need a break. They DON'T need to spend two weeks in Hawaii or go on an African safari. They DON'T need to bring 60 close friends to stay in five-star hotels on the taxpayer dime. And they most assuredly don't need to take separate planes, or fly their stupid DOG separately! Do you, like, actually KNOW anything about anything you spew? Or, as has been understandably suggested, do you just get your talking points from the Democrat Party web site or the latest episode of Bill Maher's progressive fantasy?


It will do absolutely no good to argue with the parasite sect about the debt on here. They flat out don't care. They have no sense of personal responsability. They are leaches upon the fabric of society. And leaches cannot change their blood consuming lifestyles.