A move to embarrass Democrats backfired on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Thursday as the Kentucky Republican proposed a vote on raising the nation's debt ceiling -- then filibustered it when the Democrats tried to take him up on the offer.
On Thursday morning McConnell had made a motion for the vote on
legislation that would let the president extend the country's borrowing
limit on his own. Congress would then have the option to disapprove such
hikes, in a fashion similar to one that McConnell first suggested
during last year's standoff over the debt ceiling.
The minority leader apparently did not think Senate Majority Leader
Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would take him up on his offer, which would have
allowed McConnell to portray President Barack Obama's desire for such
authority as something even Democrats opposed.
Reid objected at first, but told McConnell he thought it might be a
good idea. After Senate staff reviewed the proposal, Reid came back to
the floor and proposed a straight up-or-down vote on the idea.
McConnell was forced to say no.
"What we're talking about here is a perpetual debt ceiling grant, in
effect, to the president, " McConnell said. "Matters of this level of
controversy always require 60 votes."
Sixty votes are required to end a filibuster during debate on a bill and hold a vote.
immediately seized on McConnell's reversal, noting it was the sort of
obstruction that they think warrants changes to the rules on
"What we have here is a case of the Republicans here in the Senate
once again not taking yes for an answer," Reid said. "This morning the
Republican leader asked consent to have a vote on his proposal. Just now
I told everyone we're willing to have that vote, an up-or-down vote,
and now the Republican leader objects to his own idea, so I guess we
have a filibuser of his own bill."
Democrats piled on.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters that McConnell thought
he'd thrown Democrats for a loop. "It was a little too clever by half,"
Schumer said, adding that it "would have been a great moment."
"Sen. McConnell's usually astute political radar was a bit off today," Schumer said. "This may be a moment in Senate history when a senator made a
proposal and, when given an opportunity for a vote on that proposal,
filibustered his own proposal," said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). "I think
we have reached a new spot in the history of the Senate we've never
"I don't know how the Republicans can say they're not abusing the
filibuster after what we saw on the floor today," Durbin told reporters.
"It's somewhat comic, but sad as well, that we've reached the point
where Sen. McConnell will not even accept a majority vote on his own
measure." FULL POST