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The Senate has passed a bill to raise the statutory limit on federal debt by $984 billion.

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Roll Call: Senate Raises Statutory Debt Limit

The Senate has passed a bill to raise the statutory limit on federal debt by $984 billion.

On May 23, by a vote of 53 to 44, the Senate passed a motion to raise the statutory limit on federal debt, the ceiling on how much the Treasury Department can borrow. The bill first cleared in the House on April 11, and became law after being signed by President Bush on May 27.

The bill called for an increase of $984 billion in the debt ceiling-the largest debt limit increase in history. The largest increase prior to this was in 1990, under the first Bush administration, when the Government increased the debt limit by $915 billion. Since 1990, the Government has increased the debt limit five times, an average of about $450 billion per occurrence.

If Congress actually chooses to borrow up to the new limit under this bill (which is very likely), they will be borrowing about $3,400 for each man, woman and child in America. This huge figure gave several Democratic senators an excuse to complain on the Senate floor. They see the increased debt as a political liability for President Bush, even though the Democrats themselves would gladly borrow twice as much and spend it on social programs if they had power.

“The Federal debt is like the family credit card,” said Sen. Max Baucus (D.-Mont.). “Sooner or later you have to pay down the debts that you have already incurred. If you don’t, your credit rating will suffer.”

Unfortunately, Congress continues to spend like there’s no tomorrow.

Sen. Robert Byrd (D.-W.Va.) chastised the Bush administration’s handling of the economy, citing deception and the desire to push new tax cuts where there is no money to “pay for” letting people keep their own money through the tax cuts already passed.

“Like a carney at a circus sideshow, the Bush administration is asking the American people to step up to a barrel, and slap down $41,340 to win a $1,083 tax cut prize,” said Byrd, whose ability to bring billions of dollars home to West Virginia for wasteful public works projects is legendary. “What will happen when the carney pulls back the curtain and the American people realize that they have been swindled?”

The rapid rise of unemployment during Bush’s administration was another argument Democrats brought to the table, apparently suggesting that tax cuts are harmful to the economy.

“Since the 2001 tax cuts, unemployment has risen by nearly 50 percent,” said Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D.-N.J.). “President Bush inherited the strongest economy in history and has run it into the ground.”

A “yes” vote was a vote for raising the statutory limit on Federal debt $984 billion as passed by the House. A “no” vote was a vote against the ceiling increase.

FOR THE BILL: 53 AGAINST THE BILL: 44
REPUBLICANS FOR (50):
Alexander
Allard
Allen
Bennett
Bond
Brownback
Bunning
Burns
Campbell
Chafee
Chambliss
Cochran
Coleman
Collins
Cornyn
Craig
Crapo
DeWine
Dole
Domenici
Enzi
Fitzgerald
Frist
Graham (S.C.)
Grassley
Gregg
Hagel
Hatch
Hutchison
Inhofe
Kyl
Lott
Lugar
McCain
McConnell
Murkowski
Nickles
Roberts
Santorum
Sessions
Shelby
Smith
Snowe
Specter
Stevens
Sununu
Talent
Thomas
Voinovich
Warner.

DEMOCRATS FOR (2):
Breaux
Miller

INDEPENDENTS FOR (1):
Jeffords

REPUBLICANS AGAINST (1):
Ensign

DEMOCRATS AGAINST (43):
Akaka
Baucus
Bayh
Biden
Bingaman
Boxer
Byrd
Cantwell
Carper
Clinton
Conrad
Corzine
Daschle
Dayton
Dodd
Dorgan
Durbin
Feingold
Feinstein
Graham (Fla.)
Harkin
Hollings
Inouye
Johnson
Kohl
Landrieu
Lautenberg
Leahy
Levin
Lieberman
Lincoln
Mikulski
Murray
Nelson (Fla.)
Nelson (Neb.)
Pryor
Reed (R.I.)
Reid (Nev.)
Rockefeller
Sarbanes
Schumer
Stabenow
Wyden.

NOT VOTING: 3

REPUBLICANS (0): DEMOCRATS (3):
Edwards
Kennedy
Kerry
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