By the time 11 Republican senators finally agreed to thwart Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-Texas) filibuster of a two-month debt limit increase on Thursday night, allowing 50 Democrats to pass the legislation, feelings were pretty raw in the Senate chamber.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who reached an agreement with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) earlier in the day to allow the short-term break from the threat of fiscal calamity, had spent hours cajoling at least nine more Republicans to seal the deal. And when the 61-38 vote to end the filibuster was official, Schumer lit into his GOP colleagues.
"I thank my Democratic colleagues for showing unity in solving this Republican-manufactured crisis," he said. "Republicans played a dangerous and risky partisan game, and I am glad that their brinkmanship did not work."
"Republicans reacted volcanically to Schumer's speech," Politico reports. Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) was one of the senators who approached Schumer to voice that displeasure. "His speech was totally out of line," he said. "I mean, he crossed lines and it was inappropriate and tone deaf and I told him that." Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), the 11th GOP yes vote, told CNN it was a "classless speech."
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who voted to filibuster the bill, called Schumer's speech self-defeating."There's a time to be graceful and there's a time to be combative," he said. "That was a time for grace and common ground."
Republicans appear to be frustrated McConnell caved after months of insisting Democrats raise the debt ceiling through the cumbersome budget reconciliation process, but Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who was sitting behind Schumer as he spoke, didn't seem thrilled with Schumer's GOP rebuke, either.
"I'm sure that Chuck's frustration was built up, but that's not the way to take it out," Manchin said afterward. "We just disagree. I'd have done it differently."
Nobody seemed thrilled with Thursday's exercise in catastrophe avoidance. "This whole process is stupidity on steroids," said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). Nevertheless, the Senate will almost certainly do it again in seven weeks.
We did learn something from the vote, though. Before Wednesday, the assumption was that McConnell was insisting Democrats use budget reconciliation as part of some plan to derail their agenda or at least rake up material for 2022 attack ads. But political scientist Sarah Binder said there now seems to be a simpler explanation.