Most Dems who backed 'clean' debt hike rejected final deal


More than half of the 114 House Democrats who signed a letter vowing to support a "clean" increase to the nation's debt ceiling rejected the final deal earlier this week.

The letter, spearheaded by Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), asked House leaders "to convene the caucus and establish a Democratic position in favor of a clean extension of the debt limit."

"To do otherwise, or to threaten to do so, or to leverage our duty to pay our bills into a partisan advantage in budget disputes, jeopardizes the full faith and credit of the United States of America," the letter stated.


Of the 108 Welch signatories who voted Monday (two did not vote, one resigned, and three signatories are delegates), 65 rejected the legislation, which included $2.1 trillion in government spending cuts over the next decade.


Forty-three of the original Welch signatories voted “yes."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said before the vote that she would support the deal, but would not pressure her Democratic colleagues to follow suit. Pelosi and many of her colleagues expressed frustration with the final agreement, which was signed into law quickly by President Obama.

The overall vote among Democrats was an even split, with 95 “no,” 95 “yes” and three not voting. The deal passed 269-161.

"What [the Welch signatories] were trying to do is put pressure on the president, not the Republicans," said Michael Munger, political science professor at Duke University.

“They may be angry at the president, but he's really their only shot,” Munger said. “They need each other too much to be able to do anything but grit their teeth."

He added that had the vote been closer, more Democrats would have voted yes.

"I think there was some sympathy on the part of Democrats to side with their president," said Robert Gilbert, political science professor at Northeastern University.

Democratic lawmakers who signed the Welch letter and voted yes Monday include Reps. Norm Dicks (Wash.), Cedric Richmond (La.), Collin Peterson (Minn.), Steve Israel (N.Y.), Luis Gutierrez (Ill.) and Jay Inslee (Wash.). Many Democrats reluctantly backed the final measure, saying voting against it would have put the U.S. into default.

House Republicans needed the votes of Democrats to pass the bill, suffering 66 defections.

In May, most of the Welch letter signatories voted in favor of a Republican-proposed clean debt ceiling increase, despite Democratic leaders urging a “no” vote on what they called a political stunt.

As expected, the May 31 measure failed 97-318, with 97 Democrats in support and 82 opposed.

The 65 House lawmakers who signed the Welch letter and voted against the final debt deal on Aug. 1:


  • Peter Welch (Vt.) 
  • Tammy Baldwin (Wis.) 
  • Earl Blumenauer (Ore.)
  • Leonard Boswell (Iowa) 
  • Corrine Brown (Fla.) 
  • G.K. Butterfield (N.C.) 
  • André Carson (Ind.) 
  • Hansen Clarke (Mich.) 
  • Yvette Clarke (N.Y.) 
  • Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.) 
  • Steve Cohen (Tenn.) 
  • John Conyers Jr. (Mich.) 
  • Elijah Cummings (Md.) 
  • Peter DeFazio (Ore.), 
  • Diana DeGette (Colo.), 
  • Mike Doyle (Pa.)
  • Donna Edwards (Md.) 
  • Keith Ellison (Minn.) 
  • Eliot Engel (N.Y.), 
  • Sam Farr (Calif.), 
  • Bob Filner (Calif.), 
  • Marcia Fudge (Ohio) 
  • Al Green (Texas), 
  • Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.)
  • Alcee Hastings (Fla.)
  • Rush Holt (N.J.), 
  • Michael Honda (Calif.)
  • Jesse Jackson Jr. (Ill.) 
  • Marcy Kaptur (Ohio)
  • Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) 
  • Barbara Lee (Calif.) 
  • John Lewis (Ga.) 
  • Zoe Lofgren (Calif.) 
  • Ben Ray Lujan (N.M.) 
  • Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.)
  • Edward Markey (Mass.)
  • Doris Matsui (Calif.)
  • Jim McDermott (Wash.)
  • Jim McGovern (Mass.)
  • Brad Miller (N.C.)
  • James Moran (Va.)
  • Christopher Murphy (Conn.)
  • John Olver (Mass.)
  • Chellie Pingree (Maine)
  • David Price (N.C.)
  • Charles Rangel (N.Y.)
  • Laura Richardson (Calif.)
  • Lucille Roybal-Allard (Calif.)
  • Tim Ryan (Ohio)
  • Linda Sanchez (Calif.)
  • John Sarbanes (Md.)
  • Jan Schakowsky (Ill.)
  • Robert Scott (Va.)
  • José Serrano (N.Y.)
  • Louise Slaughter (N.Y.)
  • Pete Stark (Calif.)
  • Betty Sutton (Ohio)
  • Bennie Thompson (Miss.)
  • Paul Tonko (N.Y.)
  • Nydia Velázquez (N.Y.)
  • Maxine Waters (Calif.)
  • Melvin Watt (N.C.)
  • Henry Waxman (Calif.)
  • Lynn Woolsey (Calif.)
  • John Yarmuth (Ky.)