Led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 43 Republican senators declared in a Saturday afternoon letter that they won’t vote for the debt ceiling plan Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is offering.
The letter means Reid’s bill won’t get the 60 votes needed to clear necessary procedural hurdles and come up for a vote at 1:00 a.m. on Sunday.
McConnell and the majority of his Republican caucus said most of what Reid considers cuts in his plan are really “widely ridiculed accounting gimmick[s].”
“In return for an unprecedented $2.4 trillion debt limit increase, your amendment reduces spending by less than $1 trillion over the next decade,” Senate Republicans wrote to Reid. “Setting aside the $200 billion shortfall between the CBO scored savings and the $2.4 trillion debt limit increase, identified by the Congressional Budget Office, most of the proposal’s alleged savings are based on a false claim of credit for reductions in war-related spending that were already scheduled to occur.”
On the Senate floor on Saturday, McConnell added that he thinks Reid’s plan is a way to protect President Barack Obama politically through the 2012 election.
“This bill has one goal: to get the President through his next election without having to have another national debate about the consequences of his policies,” McConnell said. “The president wants to make sure this kind of debate doesn’t happen again — even as he gets Democrats in Congress to give him permission to add trillions more to the debt.”
McConnell also called on Obama to jump back into the debt ceiling negotiations fray. “[Reid’s plan] isn’t going to pass; let’s get talking to the administration,” McConnell said on the floor.
Reid continues to blame Republicans for giving in to what he calls “Tea Party extremists.” Reid ripped McConnell for what he said is unwillingness to compromise. On the floor Saturday, Reid said McConnell won’t meet with him to come to an agreement.
“We have solicited ideas from our Republican friends and colleagues,” Reid said. “Let it never be said that Democrats in the Senate were afraid to compromise. We welcome it.” (A HARRY PROPOSAL: Analysis says Reid’s budget plan could result in tax increases)
Four Republican senators didn’t sign McConnell’s letter. They are Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
The House of Representatives picked up Reid’s bill and voted it down by a vote of 173 to 246 on Saturday afternoon, in what was widely viewed as a political posturing move to show that the top Senate Democrat’s plan won’t pass through the lower chamber of Congress.
Eleven House Democrats and every House Republican voted against Reid’s plan.