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Posted at 05:11 PM ET, 08/01/2011

Congressional Black Caucus plans to force GOP’s hand on debt vote

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, dissatisfied with the debt-ceiling deal negotiated by President Obama and leaders in Congress, are planning a procedural move on Monday that would require a majority of House Republicans to cast their votes on the measure before CBC members cast theirs.

“A quorum of the Caucus convened and agreed to abstain from voting until the majority of Republican members have voted on the debt ceiling package,” Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.), the caucus whip, said in an e-mail to CBC members Monday afternoon.

The CBC is comprised of 45 members – 44 Democrats and one Republican, Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.). Many of the group’s members have said they strongly oppose the debt-limit plan because it would make cuts to programs that benefit society’s most vulnerable -- including seniors, minorities and the poor -- while not calling for any tax increases as part of the “balanced” approach that Obama and congressional Democrats favor.

House Republicans said that by planning the procedural move, CBC members were playing politics and turning against their own party leaders.

“This is a bipartisan bill that the Democratic president has signed off on and supports and they’re playing politics with the future of the American people,” said a House Republican aide, who asked not to be identified because the aide is not authorized to speak publicly about strategy.

By abstaining until a majority of Republicans have voted, CBC members would be putting pressure on the GOP by calling attention to the number of House Republicans voting “yes” or “no” Monday evening. But the move would not affect the measure’s threshold for passage.

A senior Democratic aide noted that the move actually shows the extent to which members realize the debt deal can’t fail: Since most of the CBC members are “no” votes, by abstaining, they would be lowering the threshold of votes needed for passage and would be making sure that all of the necessary “yes” votes are secured. That aide also was not authorized to speak publicly.

Such procedural moves by either party are rare; the last instance came in April, when most House Democrats voted “present” on a 2012 budget drafted by the conservative Republican Study Committee in order to put pressure on Republicans. The budget was a more-conservative alternative to the budget put forth by House Republican leaders, and while many Republicans backed both, party leaders were forced to persuade some members to vote “no” on the RSC budget due to the Democratic move.

By  |  05:11 PM ET, 08/01/2011

 
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