On Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid failed to receive the 60 votes he needed to move forward with his plan for a 14-month extension of the debt ceiling. Reid’s plan contained no off-setting spending cuts or reforms and was intended to push the debt debate until after the 2014 mid-term elections. The vote was 53-45 to invoke cloture and proceed to debate on the bill.
With ongoing talks with the White House and Senate Republicans, Reid’s loss wasn’t unexpected. It was essentially a test vote for each caucus to see how unified each was ahead of final negotiations on the fiscal stalemate. Attention was particularY focused on incumbent Democrat Senators up for reelection next year in red states. If Reid could keep them unified with the rest of the caucus, he would have a stronger hand in any final round of talks.
A vote for Reid’s motion is a heavy lift for Democrats like Mary Landrieu, Mark Pryor, Mark Begich, Kay Hagen and others. Republicans need to pick up six seats to wrest control of the chamber. Democrat retirements in Montana, West Virginia, and South Dakota put the GOP in a strong position ahead of the midterms.
Voting for a “clean” $1.1 trillion debt hike is very unpopular in the home states of these vulnerable Democrats. How this stand-off ultimately plays out will be a big factor in next year’s elections.