Twelve Republicans voted for a procedural motion after a lengthy delay.
by Ramsey Cox and Erik Wasson, The Hill
The Senate approved a hike to the debt ceiling on Wednesday — but only after a dramatic procedural vote that forced GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) to vote in favor of advancing the legislation.
McConnell and top lieutenant Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) backed the motion to end debate despite the GOP leader's difficult primary fight. His challenger immediately criticized the vote.
The 67-31 cloture vote took more Senate time than usual, highlighting the arm-twisting going on behind closed doors, as few Republicans wanted to be seen as casting the deciding vote for the bill. It wasn't gaveled closed until more than an hour after it began.
The debt hike was approved for final passage in a 55-43 vote, with all Republicans voting "no."
The battle highlighted tensions in the GOP between establishment and Tea Party Republicans.
Sixty votes were needed to clear the procedural hurdle because of a filibuster by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who, like other Republicans, was deeply disappointed the bill didn't include spending curbs.
Without a filibuster, however, the bill could have been approved in a majority vote on the backs of Democrats.
In the end, 12 Republicans backed the motion. Many appeared to switch their votes before the final gavel, possibly to give one another cover after McConnell and Cornyn's pivotal votes.
McConnell's vote was particularly notable because he is seen as the most vulnerable Republican up for reelection this year. [Read more]