What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : (S. 23) On tabling (killing) an amendment that would have required the federal government to pay bondholders and social security payments before any other obligations (such as veterans’ benefits, aid to public schools, etc.) in the event that the national debt exceeded its legal limit. (2011 senate Roll Call 28)
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(S. 23) On tabling (killing) an amendment that would have required the federal government to pay bondholders and social security payments before any other obligations (such as veterans’ benefits, aid to public schools, etc.) in the event that the national debt exceeded its legal limit.
senate Roll Call 28     Mar 01, 2011
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

This was a vote on a motion to table (kill) an amendment by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) that would have required the federal government to pay bondholders and social security payments to seniors before any other obligations (such as veterans’ benefits, aid to public schools, etc.) in the event that the national debt exceeded its legal limit. This amendment was offered to legislation overhauling the federal patent system.

Toomey urged support for his amendment: “This amendment, in fact, is designed precisely to prevent the kind of chaos that might otherwise ensue by simply ensuring that under no circumstances whatsoever would the United States government default on its debt…. I think it is also important to note that a majority of all of the debt issued by this government is held by Americans. They are held by senior citizens who live in Allentown, PA, and who have saved their whole life and invested that savings in U.S. Treasury securities. I think it is very important that we send the message to them that even if we are not able to get our work done and raise the debt limit, as I hope we will at the appropriate time, we certainly would not default on the debt they hold.”

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) urged opposition to the amendment: “This amendment would bring chaos. If we were ever to get to the point of being unable to raise our debt, it would bring chaos to pay the Chinese bondholders first before we pay anybody else. That is the wrong thing to do. I do not think we want to get into a situation where we are going to tell the American people they are second to foreign investors. I strongly urge that this amendment be defeated.”

The Senate tabled (killed) this amendment by a vote of 52-47. All 52 Democrats present voted “yea.” All 47 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the Senate rejected an amendment that would have required the federal government to pay bondholders and social security payments before any other obligations in the event that the national debt exceeded its legal limit.

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