President Barack Obama said in a statement late Wednesday night that he was “pleased” that both chambers of Congress had passed a “clean” debt-ceiling increase. Obama’s statement came after a tenuous vote in the Senate, during which Republicans struggled to find enough votes to advance the legislation to a final vote.
In his statement, Obama made clear that he expects the debt ceiling to be de-weaponised as a potential tool for political leverage in the future.
Here’s Obama’s full statement (emphasis added):
“I’m pleased that Republicans and Democrats in Congress have come together to pay for what they’ve already spent, and remove the threat of default from our economy once and for all. The full faith and credit of the United States is too important to use as leverage or a tool for extortion. Hopefully, this puts an end to politics by brinksmanship and allows us to move forward to do more to create good jobs and strengthen the economy. Instead of wasting time creating new crises, Congress should be focused on creating new jobs and opportunities. That’s what the American people deserve from their representatives in Washington, and that’s what they should get.”
Since the bruising summer 2011 debt-ceiling fight, Obama and Democrats have said they would not normalize a negotiation over the debt ceiling. They have been remarkably unified in their stance, and it has largely worked in diffusing the threat.
Last January, House Republicans attached a “No Budget, No Pay” provision to a debt-limit suspension. In October, when Republicans agreed to reopen the government and suspend the debt ceiling again, there were no strings attached.
Democrats knew that this time, even though Republicans didn’t want a fight over the debt ceiling, they had backed themselves into a corner. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the chair of the Senate Budget Committee, time after time called Republicans’ bluff on the issue. Eventually, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) let a clean increase come to the floor and pass with a vast majority of Democratic votes.
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