With Debt Debate Ongoing, Senate Postpones Vote on Libya

Jul 5, 2011 4:33pm

ABC News' Sunlen Miller (@sunlenmiller) reports:

 The Senate has scrubbed a vote this afternoon on whether to invoke cloture on the Kerry/McCain resolution authorizing the use of American force in Libya, in order to focus on the debt ceiling negotiations as the August 2 deadline for action to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt looms.

The announcement was made this afternoon by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on the Senate floor just hours before the 5 p.m. vote was to happen. Reid said that the “most important thing to focus on this week is the budget.”

The postponement follows cries from Republican senators that the debt ceiling negotiations are right now the top priority above anything else. Many thought with the July 4 recess being cancelled in the Senate, the agenda would focus exclusively on the debt ceiling talks, and were surprised when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scheduled the first vote back on proceeding to debate the Libya resolution.

“Regardless of how one feels about the Libyan resolution, that's not what we need to be doing this week,” Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said on the Senate floor this afternoon, “the objection that I had and others had to going home and recessing this week was not to discuss the Libyan resolution. it was to get — to work now to confront the financial situation that we're in.”

Republican Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., called this kind of scheduling in the Senate “dysfunctional.”

“We're here over the debt ceiling, “ Corker said, “We're here over the fact that we have huge deficits and we don't have an agreement to deal with that, but instead of focusing on the issue at hand, which is what most people back in Tennessee or Virginia or some other place would do if they had a problem, we're going to focus on something possibly that is irrelevant and has nothing whatsoever to do with the issue at hand, just to make the American people think that we're doing something.”

The vote on the Kerry/McCain Libya resolution will now hold for another day. Senator McCain, R-Ariz., said he hopes they will take up the resolution next week but understands the delay.

“The Senate is back in session this week to address the looming debt crisis,” McCain said in a paper statement, “The majority of Senators understandably prefers to focus on that issue this week, and therefore consideration of the Resolution authorizing force in Libya has been delayed. I believe the Senate has a responsibility to debate the ongoing conflict in Libya, and it is my hope that we will address this issue as early as next week.”

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