Democrats block Senate vote on disapproval of debt ceiling increase

Senate Democrats blocked a Republican resolution that disapproves of President Obama's decision to suspend the debt ceiling until February.

Republicans failed to get enough votes to proceed to the resolution — Tuesday’s vote was 45-54.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) secured the symbolic vote on S.J.Res. 26 as part of the fiscal deal that passed earlier this month, reopened the government and raises the debt ceiling until February.

“Our debt is a serious problem,” McConnell said ahead of the vote. “I believe increases in the debt ceiling should be accompanied by reforms. … We have to get our debt under control before we move any further down the road to Greece or Spain.”

The Senate vote came the same day Senate Democrats introduced a bill to permanently allow the president to raise the debt ceiling without congressional approval.

Under the bill passed to end the government shutdown, Congress gave Obama the authority to suspend the debt ceiling, which he did on Oct. 17. But the bill also gave Congress an opportunity to overturn Obama's debt ceiling decision if it passes a joint resolution of disapproval within 22 days.

The House also planned to vote this week on H.J.Res. 99, which is the same language as McConnell’s resolution, but it could pass in the House only to go nowhere in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday that if Republicans successfully passed the resolution it would risk a government default and economic depression.

Many Republicans complained that they barely got any spending cuts out of the temporary deal because Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) insisted on defunding ObamaCare as a negotiating tool.

Republicans want a dollar-for-dollar cut in spending for every dollar the Treasury Department borrows because the nation has nearly $17 trillion of debt.

Budget Committee conferees have until Dec. 13 to report a budget deal — negotiations officially begin this week.