In an unsurprisingly dirty trick to avoid the optics of making his Democratic caucus vote to filibuster a bill supported by two thirds of Americans and that includes a balanced budget amendment they previously supported, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called a vote this morning to
simply table the House plan to raise the debt ceiling and cut spending in order to avoid a historic default.
The party line vote was 51 to 46 in favor of tabling. While I didn’t expect the twenty Senate Democrats that were previously on the record in support of a balanced budget amendment to keep their word, I did expect a handful of moderate Democrats to at least allow the plan to be debated and amended (if not out of principle, at least out of a recognition of the electoral consequences of opposing fiscal responsibility).
One particularly disgusting scene I caught on CSPAN-2 immediately before the vote involved the formerly rogue Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and his announcement in opposition to the House plan. Manchin reaffirmed his support for a balanced budget amendment, but said that cuts which would be necessary should the amendment he supports be ratified were too extreme. As soon as Manchin concluded his remarks, Reid called him a “wonderful addition to the Senate” and praised him for honoring “Robert Byrd’s legacy.”
If all Manchin’s going to get for his vote is an attaboy from Dingy Harry, he got a raw deal.