Given that the entire 55-member Democratic caucus is expected to support the clean debt ceiling bill, that means five Republicans would need to join with Democrats to advance the bill to passage. Centrist-minded [sic] Republicans like Sens. Mark Kirk of Illinois, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Susan Collins of Maine all said they were undecided on how they will vote.
Sen. Ted Cruz and the GOP rank and file ultimately backed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip John Cornyn into a corner on the debt ceiling increase.
The leaders had wanted to allow the toxic measure to pass with just 51 votes so all 45 Republicans could vote against it. But Cruz, the Texas tea party freshman, demanded approval by a 60-vote threshold.
So McConnell and Cornyn tried to persuade more than five Republicans in safe seats to support the plan, but they were met with stiff resistance. No Republican wanted to be vote No. 60 on a bill to raise the debt ceiling without spending cuts, forcing the GOP leaders to secure a comfortable margin of victory or risk being blamed for a historic debt default.
Miffed that they have long been asked to take tough votes when the GOP leaders voted 'no,' Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski, privately pressured McConnell and Cornyn to vote to break the filibuster, sources said. Murkowski resisted voting for the measure without the support of her leadership...
The vote proved to be anything but quick and easy...
That internal debate spilled into open view on the Senate floor. A grim-faced McConnell stood next to the white-haired Cornyn, who quietly discussed a way forward with Murkowski, Collins, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and a handful of other senators. Tension filled the room as the vote was kept open for more than an hour. The clerks were informed not to announce the names of the senators who had voted, allowing the leaders to urge senators to switch their votes.