Debt-ceiling crisis averted – at least for now

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A failed vote to end a filibuster.

That’s what Democrats needed if they wanted to alter Senate precedent on the legislative tactic, this one linked specifically to lifting the debt ceiling. 

The Senate finally took a vote Thursday to end a filibuster on legislation to increase the debt ceiling by $480 billion. Eleven Republicans chipped in to help hit the magic 60-vote threshold to halt debate, and, later, pass the bill. 

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky offered Democrats a deal to avoid a fiscal meltdown and a debt-ceiling crisis.

There is a lot of spin out there about McConnell backing down from his plan to make Democrats raise the debt ceiling on their own. One narrative is that McConnell was trying to salvage the Senate. He supposedly feared that Democrats would use a prospective, failed cloture vote to end the debt ceiling as a reason to alter one of the Senate’s longest-held traditions: the filibuster. The theory went that McConnell is a steward of the Senate’s customs and traditions. So he opposed changing the filibuster. Moreover, getting rid of the filibuster would prevent Republicans from blocking any legislation. 

“McConnell blinked,” said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del.

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