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POLITICS: PennAve

Bob Corker: GOP colleagues held up debt limit vote for fundraising gain

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Sen. Bob Corker accused two of his GOP colleagues of crassly holding up a vote on raising the nation's debt limit as a way to line their campaign war chest.

"Forty-three of those Republican senators knew what had to be done yesterday," the Tennessee Republican told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Thursday, referring to Wednesday's Senate vote to raise the debt ceiling. "And we have two senators, let's face it, that are really, really upset that they weren't able to use this to raise a lot of money for their PACs and for their campaigns.

"That's what this was all about. And everyone understood that. There was no game plan."

Senate Republicans were opposed to raising the nation's borrowing limit without also securing spending cuts from Democrats. But with the federal government poised to hit its debt ceiling by Feb. 27 — a scenario economists say could trigger a recession or worse — GOP leaders agreed not to filibuster the Democrats' debt limit bill in order to allow the measure to pass on a simple majority vote in the 100-member chamber.

But Tea Party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas demanded a 60-vote threshold to move ahead on the measure in the hope of extracting concessions from Democrats. The move resulted in a dramatic floor scramble for votes, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and his top lieutenant, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, reluctantly delivering the votes to ensure passage.

A handful of other Republicans also switched their "no" votes to "yes" to provide political cover to McConnell and Cornyn, who are facing substantial primary challenges in their re-election bids this year.

Cruz and other Tea Party advocates said the federal government instead should significantly cut spending as a way of lowering its balloting debt.

"Today's vote is yet another example that establishment politicians from both parties are simply not listening to the American people," Cruz said after the the Senate vote.

But Corker said Cruz put himself — and his public Image as a leading Tea Party figure — ahead of nation's best interests.

"We block [that vote], we put the country in economic turmoil," Corker said. "What is the end game [for Cruz]? And there was no end game."

The Tennessean declined to name the second senator.

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Author:

Sean Lengell

Congressional Correspondent
The Washington Examiner