Senate Passes Clean Debt Ceiling Increase, Heads To Obama's Desk

Hey, catastrophe averted: The Senate passed clean legislation to increase the debt ceiling Wednesday, just one day after the House of Representatives did the same. The bill, which contains no other policy provisions other than the debt ceiling increase, now heads to President Obama’s desk; once Obama signs it, the nation will have until March of 2015 until the next time Republicans force an unnecessary crisis and then back down at the last minute. It’s a great day for basic Congressional competency.

In an unexpected move, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voted to end debate on the bill. Here’s what McConnell had to say about raising the debt ceiling in January:

I think for the president to ask for a clean debt ceiling, when we have a debt the size of our economy is irresponsible.

If asking for a clean increase is irresponsible, voting for one is surely even less responsible. Technically, that’s not what McConnell did — he voted to end debate on the bill, which is sort of a pre-vote before the actual vote — but that’s a distinction without a difference. Then again, McConnell has long been a hypocrite — see here, and here — and he’s facing reelection in a state that despises him, so maybe it’s not too surprising that he decided to help avoid, rather than support, economic calamity.

House Republicans, meanwhile, tried diligently to find some ransom — any ransom! — to extract from Democrats in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. When it became clear that they couldn’t agree on what that ransom could or should be, Speaker John Boehner threw in the towel and put a clean debt ceiling bill up for a vote, and it passed.

The Senate voted 67-31 to end debate on the House bill, and passed the measure 55-43.

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