WASHINGTON -- Republicans, led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), successfully forced the Senate to drop consideration of a resolution on Libya Tuesday in order to focus on budget negotiations and raising the debt ceiling.
A Republican aide familiar with the situation said that 37 senators -- more than half of the GOP caucus -- said they would vote against the motion to proceed on the Libya resolution, which would grant congressional approval for President Obama to continue military operations in the conflict.
"The Senate was scheduled today at 5:00 to vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the bipartisan Libya resolution. ... I've spoken with the Republican leader just a short time ago, and we've agreed -- notwithstanding the broad support for the Libya resolution -- the most important thing for us to focus on this week is the budget," said Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on the floor about an hour and a half before they were set to consider the Libya measure.
Paul had threatened to filibuster all Senate business until the chamber debated the debt limit.
"We've had not one minute of debate about the debt ceiling in any committee," he said in a C-SPAN interview that aired Sunday. "We haven't had a budget in two years. We haven't had an appropriations bill in two years. So I'm part of the freshmen group in the Senate that's saying, 'no more.' Next week, we will filibuster until we talk about the debt ceiling, until we talk about proposals."
He added that a group of senators in the "conservative wing" of the Republican Party would be presenting a proposal to tie raising the debt limit to passage of a balanced budget amendment.
As of Tuesday morning, the plan was still for Republicans to filibuster the Libya resolution. But as the day went on, it became clearer that there were enough Republicans who were going to stand in the way of the measure moving forward.
A senior Democratic Senate aide confirmed that the measure was pulled because "Republicans were all going to vote against [the resolution] in protest because of the budget."
"The president has been fighting this unconstitutional war in Libya for over 90 days now," said Paul spokeswoman Moira Bagley. "We wanted to discuss this 90 days ago. We've sent him a number of letters. We very much voiced our opposition to the unconstitutional war that the president is fighting. At this point, he isn't listening to Congress, and we want to move on to the budget stuff."
Earlier Tuesday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed a cloture on budget resolution S. 1323, which states that "any agreement to reduce the budget deficit should require that those earning $1,000,000 or more per year make a more meaningful contribution to the deficit reduction effort."
"Democrats believe the sacrifice should be shared by the richest -- the richest as well. The others have all sacrificed too much already," said Reid on the Senate floor. "As we debate this in the United States Senate this week, negotiations with the vice president and the president should continue. The invitation to Republicans to help prevent a catastrophic default remains open. To become part of the solution rather than part of the problem, all Republicans have to do is accept our invitation."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) took to the Senate floor right after Reid, re-inviting President Obama to meet with Republicans on Capitol Hill and "hear firsthand why we think raising taxes in a weak economy is a bad idea and what the realities are over here."
A GOP aide told The Huffington Post that a Republican-led filibuster may still happen later, if Democrats bring up unrelated measures before the debt limit impasse is resolved.