Senate Passes $2.4 Trillion Debt Deal – 19 Republicans, 7 Democrats Vote No

By Matt Cover | August 2, 2011 | 5:24 PM EDT

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., smiles as he walks to the Senate floor to announce that a deal has been reached on the debt ceiling on Capitol Hill on Sunday, July 31, 2011.(AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

( – The Senate passed a compromise deal to raise the debt ceiling by up to $2.4 trillion on Tuesday, and shortly thereafter President Barack Obama signed the legislation into law.

The bill passed in a 74-26 vote, with 28 Republicans and 45 Democrats supporting the legislation.

The deal would raise the debt ceiling three times for a cumulative increase of up to $2.4 trillion, including an immediate increase of $400 billion. The bill will also result in at least $2.1 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The deal is the product of negotiations between House and Senate leaders and the White House to raise the debt ceiling beyond the 2012 elections and avoid a possible default on certain U.S. federal commitments.

19 Senate Republicans opposed the measure, as did 7 Democrats.

Many Senate Republicans voted against the deal because they did not think it went far enough to cut government spending and prevent future Congresses from running up large budget deficits in the future.

Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said the deal put America at risk by not meaningfully addressing the nation’s debt problems.

“I want to applaud Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell for doing their best, but they were negotiating with a President and Democrat Party that refused real solutions and sought a blank check for their big-spending agenda. However, this deal isn’t anywhere close to what needs to be done to save our nation from bankruptcy,” DeMint said in a statement.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.). (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, said that while the deal was not perfect, it deserved support because it had fundamentally changed the tone of the debate over spending and debt in Washington.

“Now, I know that for some of my colleagues reform isn’t coming as fast as they would like,” he said on the Senate floor. “I understand their frustration. I too wish we could stand here today enacting something much more ambitious. But I’m encouraged by the thought that these new leaders will help lead this fight until we finish the job. And I want to assure you today that although you may not see it this way, you’ve won this debate.”

“This bill does not solve the problem,” said McConnell. “But it forces Washington to admit that it has one. And it puts us on the path to recovery. We’re nowhere near where we need to be in terms of restoring balance. But there should be absolutely no doubt about this: we have changed the debate. We’re headed in the right direction.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who voted against the legislation said in a statement, “Since taking office, President Obama has increased total spending by nearly 30 percent and has submitted three budgets with deficits totaling $4.5 trillion. This bill only cuts $2.4 trillion over a 10-year period.  So this bill will take us 10 years to undo just half of what President Obama has done in three years.  We need more cuts now to address our current problem.”

“President Obama says he wants a balanced approach,” said Inhofe.  “What we need is a balanced budget.  Without fundamental reforms that address entitlement spending while changing how Washington spends hard-earned taxpayer dollars, we will simply pass the looming mountain of debt to our children.  That is unconscionable.”