The Senate must soon increase the national debt limit to above $13 trillion — and Democrats are looking for political cover.
Knowing they will face unyielding GOP attacks for voting to increase the eye-popping debt, Democrats are considering attaching a debt increase provision to a must-pass bill, possibly the Defense Department spending bill, according to Democratic and Republican sources.
Adding it to the defense bill would allow Democrats to argue that they voted for the measure to help troops in harm’s way — and downplay that their vote also expanded the limit for how much money the country can borrow.
The strategy has not yet been finalized, aides and senators said. The House already approved a debt limit increase of $925 billion — above the $12.1 trillion ceiling Congress approved as part of the economic stimulus package last February — but Democrats may seek to increase the limit further so they don’t have to revisit the politically treacherous issue until after the 2010 midterm elections.
GOP Senate leaders — who expect their 40 members to unite against the debt limit increase and force Democrats to find the necessary 60 votes on their own — are eager to have a protracted amendment process on the floor.
“My guess is that we will try to offer some amendments to [the increase] because I think it’ll be a good opportunity for us to have a debate on spending and borrowing, and that’s obviously a debate that we want to engage in,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), No. 4 in the GOP leadership.
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