Kansas Republican senator becomes first official ‘no’ vote on raising debt ceiling

Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran late last week sent a letter to President Obama announcing his opposition to raising the country’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, becoming the first official “no” vote on an issue that’s likely to become the next flashpoint in the ongoing budget debate on Capitol Hill.

“Americans are looking for leadership in Washington to confront the problems of today, not push them off on future generations,” Moran, a freshman senator who previously served in the House for seven terms, wrote in the March 22 letter. “To date, you have provided little or no leadership on what I believe to be the most important issue facing our nation – our national debt. With no indication that your willingness to lead will change, I want to inform you I will vote ‘no’ on your request to raise the debt ceiling.”

Earlier this month, nearly two-dozen Republican senators, not including Moran, wrote a separate letter to Obama in which they warned that “without action to begin addressing the deficit, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for us to support a further increase in the debt ceiling.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has previously said that most Senate Republicans would oppose raising the debt ceiling “unless it includes with it some credible effort to do something about our debt.” And House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that the House won’t hold a debt limit vote “without real spending cuts and real changes to the way we spend the people’s money.”

The Treasury Department estimates that the country will hit the debt ceiling sometime between mid-April and late May – and with lawmakers still embroiled in a fight over funding the federal government through late September, Moran’s announcement of his flat-out opposition to raising the debt ceiling comes even as the current spending battle has yet to conclude.

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