Senate GOP blocks Dems on debt hike

Senate Republicans on Saturday blocked a bid by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to extend the nation’s debt limit until after the 2014 midterm elections.

In an 53-45 vote, the Senate failed to win the 60 votes necessary to advance the debt-limit measure to a floor debate. The bill would increase the federal debt by an estimated $1.1 trillion.

Every Democrat supported the measure, though Reid switched his vote at the end to preserve the right to bring the motion up for another vote later.

Republicans criticized the legislation as politically transparent. Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) and two other centrist GOP senators have instead proposed raising the debt-limit only until Jan. 31, 2014.

During the vote, a large number of Democratic senators huddled around Collins (R-Maine). Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), the other two GOP centrists backing the Collins plan, joined her. 

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Joe manchin (D-W.Va.), Joe Donnelley (D-Ind.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) were just a few of the others in the huddle.

Reid warned ahead of the vote that allowing the debt limit to expire would send the nation’s economy into a tailspin.

“What a sad day for America,” he said. “They’re voting to not allow us to even debate whether the debt ceiling should be raised. Are they afraid of that? Do they just want this to go away?

“Each hour that goes by, we’re closer to a calamity for our country,” he added.

The Obama administration has set an Oct. 17 deadline for expanding borrowing authority.

A group of Senate Republicans say the debt limit should not be raised unless President Obama agrees in advance to budget negotiations that would reform entitlement programs.

Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) warned the stock market will begin to plunge unless Congress acts this weekend. He said millions of Americans will see their savings decline.

“This irresponsible action, sadly, is likely to create a decline in value of your hard-earned savings,” he said. “It can be avoided. What would it take? Six Republicans. The Democrats are ready to move forward.”

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