Senate Votes To Raise Debt Ceiling Through March 2015

In a 55-43 vote, the Senate passed a bill to stave off further debt limit battles until March 2015.
Posted at 7:24 PM, Feb 12, 2014

A whole year without a debt limit battle! The U.S. Senate passed a bill Wednesday to raise the debt ceiling, allowing the government to pay off its bills through March, 2015.

The legislation passed 55-43 with no attachments and it's expected to be signed by President Obama. The House passed a similar bill on Tuesday. (Via C-SPAN)

The bill passed despite two threats that might have derailed it — one from Senator Ted Cruz and another from mother nature. 

The Texas senator had threatened to filibuster, which would mean a 60-vote super-majority would be needed to get the bill through, as opposed to a 51-vote simple majority. (Via MSNBC)

"We were about to head into another crisis, frankly. But at the last minute what happened was this, Tony. Only three Republicans had joined 55 Democrats to pass the bill. They needed 60." (Via Al Jazeera

From there, Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn persuaded members of their own party to vote to end debate over the bill. The New York Times writes, "When it was clear that the debt ceiling increase would fail, they stepped forward in tandem to deliver the deciding votes. Other Republicans followed by changing their votes."

The move allowed the Senate to proceed to the final vote, where it passed the bill — and just in time, too.

"The Senate speeding up that debt limit vote ahead of this massive winter storm. They want to get out of dodge before dodge is buried in snow." (Via Fox News

The Senate passed the bill just as a massive snowstorm is set to hit Washington. It's expected to dump several inches of snow and ice on the east and southeastern portions of the United States, including the nation's capital. (Via Roll Call

Still, even though Republicans took the brunt of the blame for the last round of brinksmanship over the debt ceiling raise, The Wall Street Journal notes McConnell and Cornyn's choice to flip their votes was dicey.

"The decision by Mr. McConnell, as well as Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn, to switch their votes was a politically risky step because both are up for re-election in 2014. They face primary challenges from tea-party candidates who are sure to use this vote against them, as a sign that they are supporting big government spending."

If the Senate hadn't acted Wednesday, CNN reports they might not have been able to raise the debt ceiling before the Treasury's Feb. 25 deadline.