House raises debt limit, without Joe Heck’s help

Nevada’s congressional delegation split along party lines today when voting to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. Republican House Speaker John Boehner had earlier declared that Democratic help would be needed to pass the measure in the face of Republican opposition.

Reps. Dina Titus and Steven Horsford both voted aye, but Rep. Joe Heck cast a no vote, even though the bill was a straightforward yes-or-no on paying bills already incurred by the U.S. government.

“It’s refreshing that Republicans put aside their reckless agenda to allow Congress to do its job and avoid the disastrous consequences of a default. I hope this signals an end to the Republican brinkmanship that has led our country from crisis to crisis and caused significant damage to our economy,” Titus said in a statement following the vote. “This is not a permanent answer to our fiscal crisis. I remain committed to finding a long-term solution that responsibly balances our budget and protects the health and economic security of Nevada’s seniors, working families, and veterans.”

Said Horsford, in his own statement: “I’m pleased that after toying with the idea of holding the debt ceiling hostage over new ideological demands, Speaker Boehner realized it was more important to protect the full faith and credit of the United State. Avoiding default is the only way to ensure our economy can continue to recover. Raising the debt ceiling protects jobs, avoids increases in mortgage interest rates, and prevents a downturn in the stock market that would devastate 401k and retirement savings.”

Rep. Mark Amodei was reportedly still in Nevada and did not cast a vote on the debt-ceiling bill.

Heck’s reasons for casting a no vote on the bill weren’t immediately clear. I’m seeking a reaction from him and will post when I hear.

In the meantime, here’s a list of Republicans who did vote to raise the debt ceiling, including Boehner and two of his top deputies, Eric Cantor of Virginia and Kevin McCarthy of California.

Today’s vote comes after Republicans had mused about attaching a GOP priority to the must-pass debt ceiling, a tactic that might have backfired. In the end, Boehner relented, declaring that a so-called clean bill was the only one that could pass. “When you don’t have 218 votes, you you have nothing,” he said.

UPDATE: As promised, here’s Heck’s statement on the debt-ceiling vote:

“It has been a common practice to combine an increase in the debt limit with immediate spending cuts or structural reforms that will reduce the deficit and debt over the long-term. In the past, there has been bipartisan agreement that it is irresponsible to continue to increase our debt limit without making changes to current policies or spending levels. Those days seem to be behind us as the president and Democrats in Congress would prefer to continue the status quo rather than negotiate on the debt limit. I opposed this increase because raising our debt limit without making even modest reductions to spending levels is irresponsible.”

First, it wasn’t just the president and Democrats who agreed to raise the debt ceiling without a corresponding reduction in spending; it was most of the House Republican leadership! Second, it was “negotiations” over the budget bill that led to last year’s government shutdown, an entirely foreseeable result of Republican demands to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Third, is there anything more responsible than refusing to pay the bills for spending that’s already been authorized by the Congress?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid once accused Heck of being a tea party Republican. When I pressed him on that point, Reid replied that Heck votes with the tea party often enough to be counted in their ranks, even if he doesn’t repeat their rhetoric. I had my doubts at the time, but more and more, I’m prepared to concede that perhaps Reid has a point.

UPDATE: Rep. Mark Amodei’s spokesman, Brian Baluta, confirmed the congressman would have voted no on the debt-ceiling bill, had he been in Washington, D.C. He said Amodei objected to raising the ceiling without corresponding spending cuts.


2 Responses to “House raises debt limit, without Joe Heck’s help”

  1. Michael says:

    Let’s be honest: Heck is terrified of the Tea Party backlash if he does what he knows it right.

  2. Steve says:

    “Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.”