ABC News’ Sunlen Miller (@SunlenMiller) reports:
As an indication of the role the Tea Party played in the debt debate and changed the conversation on Capitol Hill – the concluding remarks of Reid and McConnell, before the vote in the Senate, focused on the message that the Tea Party has sent.
Moments before the Senate prepared to vote on the debt deal, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says this debt ceiling debate will be a template for all future debt ceiling hikes and declared that those conservatives, the Tea Party, won.
Senators passed the debt deal just after 12:30 p.m. It now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature.
“The American people sent a wave of new lawmakers to Congress in last November’s election with a very clear mandate: to put our nation’s fiscal house in order,” McConnell said, “And I want to assure you today that although you may not see it this way, you’ve won this debate.
Most, if not all of the Tea Party Senators will vote against this deal today. McConnell said that he understands their frustration that they could not enact something more ambitious. And he attempted to assure them that they have made a difference in the way Washington works and will work going forward addressing the debt ceiling in the future.
“It creates an entirely new template for raising the nation’s debt limit,” McConnell said, “One of the most important things about this legislation is the fact that never again will any president, from either party, be allowed to raise the debt ceiling without being held accountable for it by the American people and without having to engage in the kind of debate we’ve just come through.”
Concluded McConnell, “the legislation the Senate is about to vote on is just a first step.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., concluded, to counter, that the American people, not the Tea party, are who won in this debate.
“The winners without trying to outline who the winners are, there’s one winner throughout all of this and that’s the American people,” Reid said on the Senate floor, adding that McConnell “boasted” about the Tea Party Senators.
“I welcome them all,” Reid said of the new Tea party Senators, “but as result of the Tea Party direction of this Congress these last few months has been very, very disconcerting and very unfair to the American people.”
Reid said the Tea Party “stopped us from arriving at a conclusion much earlier,” to this problem.
Reid admitted that more needs to be done to reign in the country’s debt and deficits – and already started positioning for the work of the super committee, that this bill will set up, will have to do.
“We need to do something because the trigger that kicks in is very, very difficult,” Reid said “And it has to be one that’s fair…it can’t be more cuts to programs that have made this country what it is. There must be a sharing of sacrifice.”