By the time the compromise debt ceiling bill got to the Senate on Thursday, the months of partisan politicking that had shaped its dimensions and guided its passage in the House had become meaningless.

In the upper chamber, there was no need for Republicans to insist on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) amazing negotiating approach; he wasn’t their leader. Plus, given the Democratic majority, passage was no longer their party’s responsibility.

The measure was approved, but with only about a third of Republicans supporting it. In the House, where the bill was unquestionably viewed as belonging to McCarthy, it got the support of two-thirds of Republicans.

In the end, the bill passed thanks to the support of the Senate’s ideological center — largely because the Senate’s Democratic caucus provided most of the votes and includes fewer members at the ideological fringe.

In the end, the bill passed the Senate thanks to overwhelming support from Democrats. That was true in the House, too, where seven in 10 representatives backed the legislation. In the Senate, though, it was nine in 10. In both parties — though unquestionably more with the Republicans — opposition sat at the edges.

Many of the Republicans who voted against the bill followed Sen. Lindsey O. Graham’s (R-S.C.) lead in stating their objections to limits on increases in defense spending. Most Republicans who voted against it, though, also voted against the 2019 bill that suspended the debt ceiling for the duration of the Trump presidency.

Those Republicans who flipped from supporting the suspension in 2019 to opposing it in 2023 sat in the ideological middle of the party caucus. Those Democrats who flipped to opposing the debt ceiling were generally among the more liberal members of their party’s caucus.

Again, though, that’s in part because the Democratic caucus is less extreme than the Republican one. According to Voteview’s measure of ideology, rating senators on a scale from -1 (very liberal) to 1 (very conservative), the Democratic caucus averages a rating of -0.35. The Republicans average 0.54. Only two Democratic senators have ideology scores between -0.54 and -1. Twenty-four Republicans have scores between 0.54 and 1.

On Twitter, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough celebrated President Biden’s having “crushed the extremes” and having created space for passage in the ideological center. That’s true, because passage by the Senate’s centrists almost necessarily means passage with lopsided Democratic support.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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