Trump urged GOP senators to vote 'no' on raising the debt ceiling. 11 senators, including Mitch McConnell, ignored him and voted to pave the way for passage.

·3 min read
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gives a thumbs up when asked whether a deal has been reached regarding the ongoing debate on the national debt reduction on July 31, 2011 in Washington, DC.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gave a thumbs-up when asked in 2011 whether a deal had been reached regarding the debate on the national debt reduction. Astrid Riecken/Getty Images
  • Former President Donald Trump has been vocal about disagreeing with raising the debt ceiling.

  • But 11 GOP senators on Thursday helped Democrats pave the way for a short-term increase.

  • Trump's sway is more limited in the Senate compared with the House.

Former President Donald Trump urged Senate Republicans to oppose raising the debt ceiling only minutes before a vote began Thursday. But 11 GOP senators - including the upper congressional chamber's top Republican - ignored his comments anyway and helped Democrats clear a procedural hurdle in the deadlocked Senate, allowing the bill containing a short-term increase to pass.

"Republican Senators, do not vote for this terrible deal being pushed by folding Mitch McConnell. Stand strong for our Country. The American people are with you!" the former president advised.

He was unable to convince 11 GOP senators, who helped Democrats clear the 60-vote hurdle needed to end debate and overcome a filibuster. That allowed the measure to then clear the Senate with only Democratic support in a separate vote.

Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Shelley Moore-Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine, John Cornyn of Texas, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Richard Shelby of Alabama, and John Thune of South Dakota helped Democrats break the filibuster. The so-called cloture vote was 61-38; the final vote on the bill was 50-48 along party lines.

Trump's influence is more limited in the Senate than it is in the House, where he holds outsize sway among Republicans. In the summer, 19 Republican senators supported President Joe Biden's $550 billion infrastructure bill, despite Trump's demands that they tank it. Still, that doesn't mean he is without influence in the Senate.

"I think Donald Trump always influences people's votes whether he says something or doesn't," Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota told reporters.

Senate Republicans were largely upset with McConnell's maneuver Thursday, and the party struggled to dig up 10 votes in their ranks to clear the first procedural vote, known as cloture.

The debt ceiling is the statutory cap on how much the government can borrow to pay its bills. The agreement Thursday would allow for a $480 billion increase until December 3. That'd give the US more time to pay its bills for pandemic relief and other key aid programs from the past two years. The measure still needs approval by the House and then by Biden.

If Congress fails to raise the limit, the government could default on its debt and plunge the US into a new economic crisis.

"We've averted the fiscal cliff - at least for now," Murkowski told reporters on Thursday.

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