Eighty-two House Democrats joined every Republican in rejecting a bill to raise the federal debt ceiling to $16.7 trillion, and the measure failed by a vote of 97 to 318, with seven members (all Democrats) voting “present.”
The Obama administration has argued for such a “clean” vote on the debt ceiling without strings attached (such as additional legislation to reduce the debt).
Just last month, 114 Democrats signed a letter calling for a “clean” vote and Democratic Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., also advocated one. But today, Hoyer announced he was advising his caucus to vote against the measure. Ultimately, just 97 Democrats voted for it, with 82 explicitly voting against it (on top of the seven “present” votes). A total of 10 members (six Democrats, four Republicans) did not vote.
No doubt, this is political gamesmanship by the GOP meant to call the Democrats bluff and show that a stand-alone vote on the debt limit has no chance of passage. But it still is another demonstration that Democrats are reluctant to vote for anything that could open them up to criticism, even when it means voting for policies for which they had previously expressed support.
Last week, zero Senate Democrats voted for President Obama’s budget, which went down 0 to 97. And Democrats in the Senate still haven’t proposed their own alternative.
Democrats don’t seem to be gunning for any profiles in courage awards in this Congress.