In his State of the Union speech tonight, President Obama is expected to announce an executive order creating a bipartisan commission to recommend solutions to the deficit. As part of that speech, he will probably point out in that in a vote yesterday, the Senate killed a proposal to create such a commission through congressional action.
The vote on that measure was 53-46, which in most sane systems would be a passing vote. Under the Senate’s 60-vote supermajority rule, it was seven votes short. Only 16 of those 53 positive votes came from Republicans, even though the bill was a bipartisan effort cosponsored by Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire. (Both of Georgia’s senators were among those 16 Republican supporters.)
What’s interesting, though, is that six Republicans who a month ago were listed as cosponsors of the bill turned around and voted against it when the time came. A seventh GOP senator, Lisa Murkowski, was also listed as a cosponsor but missed the vote.as Politico reports. (I haven’t been able to determine the names of those six.)
Had those seven Republicans stuck with the bill, it would have had the required 60 votes to pass. President Obama was already on record as supporting it, which combined with the Senate vote might have given it enough momentum to pass the House as well. When the commission issued its recommendations by the end of the year, Congress would have been forced to vote up or down on a deficit-cutting program that both cut spending and raised taxes, which is the only means possible to address that problem.
And that’s exactly why the Republicans backed out. Their bluff got called, and they folded and walked away.