The Senate on Thursday voted against proceeding on a symbolic resolution that would have disapproved of President Obama’s request earlier this month to raise the federal borrowing limit, clearing the way for the $1.2 trillion increase to proceed as expected.
Thursday’s 44 to 52 vote fell short of the 60-vote threshold necessary to progress on the disapproval measure, which was provided for by the August debt-ceiling deal.
Last week, the House approved the disapproval resolution on a largely party-line vote, with most Republicans voting “yes” and most Democrats voting “no.”
Even if the resolution had passed, Obama most likely would have vetoed it, and lawmakers would have faced the hurdle of a two-thirds supermajority in both chambers to override the White House’s decision.
The latest hike in the debt ceiling will lift the federal borrowing limit from $15.2 trillion to $16.4 trillion, an increase that will see the country through the end of the year.
It’s the last hike called for by the August debt deal, meaning that the next time the country reaches its borrowing limit later this year, the stage will be set for another potentially explosive showdown.
Most members issued statements Thursday along the lines of their previous positions for or against raising the debt limit. But some explicitly noted that the resolution was only a symbolic one and called for lawmakers to take real action on the country’s debt problem.
“I challenge members of Congress in both parties to open their eyes to what is happening in Europe, to stop with the meaningless show votes, and get serious about our debt crisis before it is too late,” Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said in a statement.
However, with no impending crisis looming — no “supercomittee deadline,” and none of the $1.2 trillion in across-the-board cuts set to take effect until January 2013 — it’s unlikely that any serious debt-reduction effort will be afoot in the second session of the 112th Congress.