Murkowski helps move bill to avoid national default, but with limited political risk as no Republicans vote to raise debt cap

July 24, 2018 in Washington, DC
Sen. Lisa Murkowski is pursued by reporters in the U.S. Capitol in 2018 (Al Drago/Getty Images)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski was among 11 Republicans who joined Democrats to advance a bill to extend the national debt limit Thursday night, but she didn’t stick her neck out very far.

The final vote was 50 to 47, with only Democrats actually raising the debt ceiling.

Murkowski faces re-election next year to keep her seat. Her vote on the procedural cloture motion may hurt her with some right-wing conservatives. Former President Donald Trump, for instance, has been advocating for a harder line.

RELATED: Even Murkowski won’t cross aisle to help Democrats raise debt ceiling

But the procedural vote had the blessing of Republican leadership. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was among the 11, devised the bill as a short-term fix to avoid a default. At least 10 Republicans had to vote to move the bill past a filibuster while leaving final passage to the Democrats alone.

“Republicans or Democrats, I don’t care where you are: Nobody wants to see this nation default on its debt,” Murkowski said Wednesday. “That’s the height of irresponsibility.”

Echoing other Republicans, though, she said the responsibility for increasing the debt should be on Democrats “on their own.”

The short-term solution raises the debt cap by $480 billion.

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Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org.