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U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) makes a point about his meeting with President Barack Obama regarding the country's debt ceiling, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington May 12, 2011.   REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst   (UNITED STA
Mitch McConnell's maneuvering getting too cute.
On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed having a vote on a proposal he first raised back in 2011 to allow the president to unilaterally increase the debt ceiling. Back then, he used it to try to pressure President Obama further on debt ceiling negotiations, attempting to force Democrats to break a stalemate with this proposal. So he thought he'd try it again now.
“Look: the only way we ever cut spending around here is by using the debate over the debt limit to do it. Now the President wants to remove that spur to cut altogether. It gets in the way of his spending plans,” McConnell said on the floor of the Senate. “I assure you: it’s not going to happen. The American people want Washington to get spending under control. And the debt limit is the best tool we have to make the President take that demand seriously.”

The maneuver is designed to force Democrats to go on record in support of largely removing Congress’s role in the sensitive issue of the nation’s legal borrowing limit.

Except that it didn't quite work that way. Sen. Harry Reid moved to bring that proposal to the Senate floor this afternoon for a simple majority vote, and McConnell blocked it.
Reid said McConnell’s objection was a “case of Republicans refusing to take yes for an answer.”

“This morning the Republican leader asked consent to have a vote on this proposal. Now I told everyone that we are willing to have that vote, up-or-down vote,” Reid said. “Now the Republican leader objects to his own idea. So I guess we have a filibuster of his own bill.”

Of course, McConnell isn't about to give up his permanent hostage, the debt ceiling. Remember what he said last year? "What we did learn is this—it's a hostage that's worth ransoming." It's a strategy that could very well backfire on McConnell.

The business leaders at the Business Roundtable with whom Obama met this week, according to Greg Sargent, are with the president. What's more, they are now "prepared to support a provision designed to dramatically minimize the possibility of another standoff now and in the future—one also supported by the White House." That provision: "the 'McConnell provision,' a proposal pushed by Mitch McConnell last year to try to defuse the crisis." The one McConnell refused to allow a vote on today.

11:48 AM PT: Reid's office sends along this statement, promising another vote:

“The Senate should pass Senator McConnell’s proposal to give the President the authority to avoid the knock-down, drag-out fight we had over the debt ceiling last year—a fight that caused the first-ever downgrade of this country’s credit, and cost our economy billions. Senator McConnell’s filibuster prevented us from having this vote today, but I will continue to seek an agreement to hold an up-or-down vote on his proposal to avoid another debt ceiling debacle.

“After leading three hundred and eighty five filibusters in recent years, Senator McConnell took obstruction to new heights by filibustering his own bill. Republicans’ obstruction and intransigence turned the last debt ceiling fight into a disaster for the middle-class. We should give American families the security of knowing we will never go through such a harmful ordeal again.”

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 11:07 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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