While half of America was still trying to figure out how President Obama was going to pay for the $450 billion in additional stimulus he had just proposed, and the other half just giving up the idea and basking in the return of pro-football, the Democrat-led Senate effectively hiked the nation’s debt limit by $500 billion.
Given the public uproar over the debt limit how did such an important vote slide right under America’s collective nose? Clever timing on the part of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid played a large part. While most eyes and ears were still tuned to coverage of the President’s speech, the Senate returned to its chamber to vote to begin debate on a resolution of disapproval.
Despite the lack of billing it received and the complicated, highly-technical nature of the vote, it nevertheless has a clear and significant impact on taxpayers. Under the debt-ceiling agreement reached last month, the Obama Administration received an immediate $400 billion increase to the debt ceiling. The White House would obtain another $500 billion increase unless the House and Senate approved resolutions of disapproval.
Approving disapprovals is enough to make anyone’s head spin, but here what you really need to know – the vote provided a clear picture of which senators are trying to put an end to deficit spending.
As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in anticipation of the vote,
“Now, after the President’s speech tonight calling for more stimulus spending, the Senate will vote on his request for an additional $500 billion increase in the debt ceiling. So senators will have an opportunity to vote for or against this type of approach right away.”
So who seized the opportunity? In a 45 to 52 vote, every Republican, with the exception of Scott Brown (R-MA), voted to proceed to debate on the resolution of disapproval. They were also joined by Ben Nelson (D-NE) who broke from his party to support Republicans in their stance against the ever-rising tide of deficit spending that threatens to engulf America.
Our members of Congress should be doing everything they can to change the culture of excessive spending and borrowing in Washington. Although they were ultimately unsuccessful in stopping a $500 billion increase in the debt limit, yesterday’s vote shows that a significant number of senators will continue to stand up for Americans who deserve a future free from the burdens of government debt. And if President Obama’s costly new stimulus plan is any indication, we’re going to need more senators to take that stand.