The Senate voted 55 to 43 on Wednesday to approve a clean debt-limit extension through March 2015, with every Republican senator voting no.
The vote on final passage followed a contentious vote to end debate on the measure, which succeeded with the help of twelve Republicans who reluctantly voted yes. Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) had insisted on a 60-vote threshold out of frustration with the fact that no spending cuts were attached to the debt-limit increase.
Most Republicans shared this frustration, but were unwilling to commit to another sustained stand off with Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) following the politically disastrous government shutdown in October. Meanwhile, conservatives complained that GOP leadership was unwilling to allow Republicans to present an alternative plan, or even to debate the issue. In the words of one conservative aide, leadership was “abdicating the very few rights we have left as a minority.”
Senate leaders Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) and John Cornyn (R., Texas) were immediately criticized for voting to end debate. Both are facing primary challengers in 2014.
The Senate vote comes a day after the House approved a clean debt increase, with all but 28 Republicans voting no.
UPDATE: In a statement, Cruz said the debt-limit vote was “yet another example that establishment politicians from both parties are simply not listening to the American people” and “care so much about being praised by the Washington media that they’re willing to mortgage our children’s future.”
“Let’s be clear about the motive behind this vote — there are too many members of Congress who think they can fool people and they will forget about it the next week,” Cruz said. ”But sometimes, come November, the people remember.”