2:29pm The Senate’s roll call vote is now available. There’s no party summary, but just five of the 36 Nays came from Dems. So Dems (including three indies who usually caucus with them) voted in favour by 46-5, while Reps were opposed by 31-17. One Rep missed the vote. So 90% of Senate Dems but just 35% of Senate Reps were in favour of this debt limit deal. That’s much worse for McCarthy than the House vote.
2:11pm The bill has passed the Senate by a 63-36 margin, and now heads to Biden’s desk for his signature. And that’s the end of the 2023 debt limit crisis.
11:42am Friday It looks as if the US Senate could vote for final passage of the debt limit bill about 2pm AEST today (midnight US eastern). Senate leaders have told their colleagues there’s no time for the Senate’s usual delays.
3:57pm There was some drama, with 52 Dems voting for the rule that set the parameters for the debate on the debt limit bill. It’s very unusual for the minority party to give the majority any support on rule votes, but they had to or the rule would have failed owing to 29 Rep defections. The rule passed by 241-187, and there’s speculation a deal was cut between McCarthy and Dem House leader Hakeem Jeffries.
12:15pm The full roll call is now available. Reps voted in favour by 149-71, a 68% “yes” vote, and Dems by 165-46, a 78% “yes” vote. The overall “yes” percentage was 73%. Four missed the vote: two Reps and two Dems.
11:33am Thursday In the end there was no late drama regarding McCarthy’s speakership in the House, and the debt limit compromise bill has been passed by the House by a 314 to 117 margin.
Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is a paid election analyst for The Conversation. His work for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.
The US House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a 222-213 majority, is expected to vote on the debt limit compromise bill Thursday morning AEST. If this vote is held, I expect it will pass easily as the bill is only being criticized by the right, and Democratic support will make up for Republican defections.
There are two ways right-wing Republicans could derail this vote, both involving the ousting of Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. First, they could attempt to show that McCarthy no longer has the confidence of a majority of House Republicans. Second, they could initiate a “motion to vacate” to the full House. Democrats would then be in the odd position of needing to vote to save McCarthy. If McCarthy were ousted, the House could not consider other business until a new Speaker was elected.
Cooperating with the opposition on a no-confidence vote is much harder in a parliamentary system, as, if it succeeds, the most likely outcome is a new election, not a more right-wing leader. But neither chamber of the US Congress can be dissolved early.
If the bill passes the House, it must still be approved by the Senate, where Democrats hold a 51-49 majority. The Senate can only act quickly if unanimous consent is provided. If even one of the 100 senators is bloody-minded enough to deny unanimous consent to every motion, it will cause major delays. This US ABC article says it could take a week to pass the Senate, and names Republican Mike Lee as someone who could deny unanimous consent. If that occurred, the Senate would not pass the bill until after next Monday’s deadline.
From a tactical perspective, I believe the right’s anger with McCarthy is justified. Democrats made a major blunder by not lifting the debt limit while they still held control of the presidency, House and Senate prior to January 3 this year. As I related on the previous debt limit thread, national polls showed support for spending cuts, that there was little difference in who voters would blame for a default, and that Joe Biden’s ratings were falling.
This was a massive opportunity for McCarthy to force a much worse deal on Biden that would have distressed the left. Instead he let Democrats off the hook for their earlier blunder. In the end, McCarthy was more like a pussycat than a tiger.
If Biden had been forced to agree to an ugly deal, he could have faced a primary challenge to his nomination from the left. As it is, Biden is virtually assured of renomination as the Democratic 2024 presidential candidate.
NZ polls suggest right-wing coalition ahead with election in October
The New Zealand election will be held on October 14. The 120 MPs are elected by proportional representation with a 5% threshold that is waived if a party wins a single-member electorate.
Most polls now have a possible right-wing coalition of National and ACT ahead of Labour (governing) and the Greens, although the gap is close enough in some polls that the Māori party could be decisive (they are likely to win at least one of the seven electorates for those on the Māori roll).
The Kantar Public poll that was taken after the May 18 budget was particularly good for the right, giving National and ACT a 48-42 lead over Labour and the Greens. The last Kantar poll in March had given Labour and the Greens a 47-45 lead.
Spanish election called for July 23 after poor regional results for left
Twelve Spanish regional elections were held last Sunday. The conservative People’s Party (PP) won control of eight regions, the centre-left Socialists two and two are unclear. PP made a total of six gains in control since 2019, five from the Socialists and one from regionalists. There were large vote share increases for PP and the far-right Vox. After these elections, the incumbent Socialist national government announced a national election for July 23, about four months early. Current polling and these regional elections indicate that Spain is likely to be another major European country after Italy last year to fall to the right.