Meanwhile, the Senate Is Basically Working

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 29 2013 4:12 PM

Meanwhile, the Senate Is Basically Working

The ordinary operation of some part of Congress isn't newsy. News happens when the House or Senate implodes somehow. So it's going largely without notice today that the Senate 1) voted for cloture on Richard Griffin, the National Labor Relations Board nomineee who was put up as part of this year's filibuster deal, and 2) voted against "disapproval" of the debt limit increase, the trigger that had been included in that deal. (Had "disapproval" won, the debt limit would not have been increased.)

Only 45 senators voted to disapprove of the debt limit hike; only 37 voted against cloture on Griffin. Before the votes, a group of Democratic senators led by Chuck Schumer asked for the "disapproval" widget to be codified, something that would forestall any future debt limit crisis.

"He wants to extend the debt ceiling permanently by going around Congress," said Mitch McConnell. "Let me repeat that: The so-called ‘Schumer-Obama Plan’ is a plan to permanently hand the president a credit card without spending limits, and without lifting a finger to address the national debt."

Democrats laughed this off—the "disapproval" dodge was included in McConnell's 2011 offer in the debt limit increase, and was used three times before the extra debt extension was reached.

"The Republicans seem to be walking away from their ideas," snarked Barbara Boxer, comparing McConnell's outrage to that of conservatives who opposed the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.