Less than two weeks away from the deadline to raise the federal debt ceiling or face default, Pennsylvania’s two U.S. senators are still in “wait and see” mode on what kind of plan can get the support of both the House and the Senate.
A spending plan being put forth by the “Gang of Six,” a bipartisan Senate group, hasn’t generated much excitement with the state’s two senators. In e-mailed statements, Republican Pat Toomey said he’s against it, while Democrat Bob Casey was noncommittal.
Senate historian Don Ritchie said debt-limit increases have been the subject of many a media circus.
He remembers 1981, when the national debt surpassed $1 trillion for the first time in American history and a Democratic senator from Wisconsin took up most of the room’s oxygen one night.
“He didn’t think it was right to go over a trillion-dollar mark without some notice, so he actually kept the Senate in session all night long–conducted a little filibuster–not to stop the thing, not to vote against raising the debt limit, but to make sure the press paid attention to him,” Ritchie said. “In fact, he did get publicity as a result of that.”
The House passage of the “Cut, Cap and Balance” bill has been criticized as a similar move–purely symbolic, given its slim chances of passing in a Democratic-controlled Senate and the fact that President Barack Obama has threatened a veto.