Debt Ceiling Vote Relied On GOP’s ‘Tough Vote’ Caucus

by Frank James

February 13, 2014 4:09 PM
House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (left), and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (right) were among the 28 Republicans whose votes made it possible for most other Republicans to vote against the debt ceiling hike.House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (left), and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (right) were among the 28 Republicans whose votes made it possible for most other Republicans to vote against the debt ceiling hike. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Within the House Republican Conference, an unofficial “tough vote” caucus is taking shape.

Its members are the ones who tend to cast the unpleasant, politically painful, bite-the-bullet votes — like this week’s debt ceiling vote. Other fiscal votes that fit the pattern include last year’s fiscal cliff deal or the vote to end last year’s partial government shutdown.

The numbers in the tough vote caucus vary slightly from bill to bill, but the core contingent is fairly small in size: Just 28 House Republicans, for example, voted with nearly all the Democrats — 193 of them —to raise the debt ceiling. Continue reading “Debt Ceiling Vote Relied On GOP’s ‘Tough Vote’ Caucus”

Behind the scenes of a dramatic debt vote

Behind the scenes of a dramatic debt vote

By: Manu Raju and Burgess Everett
February 12, 2014 06:57 PM EST

Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn are pictured. | John Shinkle/POLITICOSen. Ted Cruz and the GOP rank and file ultimately backed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip John Cornyn into a corner on the debt ceiling increase.

The leaders had wanted to allow the toxic measure to pass with just 51 votes so all 45 Republicans could vote against it. But Cruz, the Texas tea party freshman, demanded approval by a 60-vote threshold.

So McConnell and Cornyn tried to persuade more than five Republicans in safe seats to support the effort, but they were met with stiff resistance. No Republican wanted to be vote No. 60 to advance a bill to raise the debt ceiling without spending cuts, forcing the GOP leaders to secure a comfortable margin of victory or risk being blamed for a historic debt default.

(Also on POLITICO: Senate passes debt ceiling bill)

Miffed that they have long been asked to take tough votes when the GOP leaders voted “no,” Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski, privately pressured McConnell and Cornyn to vote to break the filibuster, sources said. Murkowski resisted voting for the measure without the support of her leadership team. Continue reading “Behind the scenes of a dramatic debt vote”