Time to walk the plank on Senate debt vote

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Politics,Chris Stirewalt,Senate,Debt Ceiling,Power Play

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• Run for it!

At least five Republicans will have to walk the plank today as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid brings forward a vote to lift the federal credit limit well beyond the current $17.3 trillion debt load. The vote could have been a 51-vote majority to push through a House-passed measure that unconditionally extends government borrowing authority through the middle of March 2015. But Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and other conservatives who have consistently opposed no-strings-attached debt hikes will insist on a 60-vote supermajority to move the debt bill forward. Which five Republicans will take the plunge in the vote scheduled for midday? Potential GOP crossovers include: retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a bipartisan centrist, and GOP moderates, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was cagy with Reporters on House Republicans letting the no-cuts debt lifter to move ahead on mostly Democratic votes. While Cruz & Co. will hold their colleagues’ feet to the fire today, it’s a winter chill that may move things along. A massive snow and ice storm is bearing down on the capitol and the Suburbans are already lined up outside the Capitol to whisk lawmakers away to the airport. It may be easier for McConnell to whip votes with a blizzard on the way.

Cruz not enthused - “Historically, the debt ceiling has proven the most effective leverage for reining in spending; 28 times, Congress has attached meaningful conditions to debt ceiling increases. We should do so again to address the real problem.”—Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in a statement explaining his move to block a simple-majority vote.

Tactical withdrawal - “When you don’t have 218 votes, you have nothing. We’ve seen that before, we see it again.” That was how Speaker John Boehner explained his decision to withdraw from the debt-limit battlefield. The debt-ceiling bill passed on a 221-201 vote after conservative Republicans in the House failed to reach an agreement among themselves over what to demand in exchange for granting the president more borrowing authority. Boehner and other GOP leaders were among those joined Democrats and voted yes. The speaker announced before the vote that that was the strategy. “We’ll let the Democrats put the votes up. We’ll put a minimum number of (GOP) votes up to get it passed,” Boehner said. “We'll let his party give him the debt ceiling increase that he wants.” More.

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Chris Stirewalt
FOX News