Political Buzz Debt Ceiling Showdown July 31, 2011: Debt Talks Continue — Debt Deal Between Obama White House & Mitch McConnell, Republicans Leaders “Really, Really, Close” — Senate Republicans Vote Down Harry Reid’s Debt Bill 50-49

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

Philip Scott Andrews/The New York Times

Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky walked to the Senate floor on Sunday.

JULY 31, 2011: DEBT TALKS CONTINUE — DEBT DEAL BETWEEN MITCH MCCONNELL, REPUBLICAN LEADERS & WHITE HOUSE CLOSE AT HAND — SENATE REPUBLICAN’S DEFEAT HARRY REID’S DEBT BILL

Harry Reid’s debt deal defeated: As expected, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s deal to raise the debt ceiling by $2.2 trillion was defeated in the Senate on Sunday afternoon.
But Senate leaders and the White House continued on Sunday to craft the outlines of a deal to avoid default on Aug. 2 that seemed to be gaining momentum.

Senate Blocks Reid’s Debt Ceiling Bill: As last-ditch budget talks between top Congressional Republicans and President Obama continued on Sunday, Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, convened the Senate at noon, then moved to a symbolic procedural vote on his own proposal for raising the debt ceiling. Senate Republicans have been filibustering that plan, which House Republicans rejected on Saturday, and the procedural vote on breaking the filibuster fell 10 votes short of the 60 votes needed under Senate rules…. – NYT, 7-31-11

“I believe there will be a strong bipartisan support for this. Again, this deal has not been finalized yet, but I think we’re very, very close to something that I could comfortably recommend to my members, and I believe the Democratic leadership will be doing the same…. I’m sure there will be both Democrats and Republicans who in the end find the agreement wanting in one way or another…. My party controls only a portion of government. There’s only so much you can achieve when you don’t have the leverage of power.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday morning

“There are still elements to be resolved…. We are cautiously optimistic.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

“The enforcement mechanism has to be strong enough to compel both parties. We’re talking about a variety of options.” — White House political adviser David Plouffe, on ABC’s “This Week.”

“We haven’t even seen it yet. (Senate Majority Leader Harry) Reid and Democrats in the Senate have not signed off on this deal. We don’t even know what all the details are. So we’re not yet ready to try and urge anybody to be for it…. The key with the trigger is one word: Equality. It should be equally tough on Democrats and Republicans.” — Senator Chuck Schumer

“Discussions are underway on legislation that will cut government spending more than it increases the debt limit, and advance the cause of the balanced budget amendment, without job-killing tax hikes. Those talks are moving in the right direction, but serious issues remain. And no agreement will be final until members have a chance to weigh in. I would expect a conference call for members later this afternoon.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner email to House Republicans

“Discussions are moving in the right direction, but serious issues remain. And no agreement will be final until members have a chance to weigh in.” — A House Republican leadership aide

  • SNAPSHOT-U.S. lawmakers close to deal on debt: Here is what is happening on Sunday as lawmakers and the White House race to broker a deal to raise the country’s $14.3 trillion borrowing cap by Tuesday’s deadline and avoid default on obligations…. – Reuters, 7-31-11
  • FACTBOX-Key elements of possible U.S. debt deal: U.S. lawmakers were working furiously on Sunday to hammer out details of a deal to raise the U.S. borrowing limit and put in place a deficit-reduction plan to help avert a potentially catastrophic debt default.
    Lawmakers, administration officials and aides have made clear that they have yet to agree on the final deal. But they did provide the following details of how the deal is taking shape…. – Reuters, 7-31-11
  • Reid: ‘cautiously optimistic’ on US debt deal: U.S. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said on Sunday he was “cautiously optimistic” that Congress can reach a deal to raise the debt ceiling, but several issues still must be settled.
    “We are cautiously optimistic. There are a number of issues that need to be resolved,” Reid said in remarks on the Senate floor…. – Reuters, 7-31-11
  • Reid: ‘We still have a ways to go’: Reporters caught Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid walking from his office to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office on the House side. His message: There’s not a deal yet, but getting one before the Aug. 2 deadline is in sight.
    “We don’t have the content of what the trigger would be,” he said. “We have a few things we’re still working on and there simply not done yet.”
    When asked if he’s closer to a deal, Reid replied, “Well, closer than yesterday, but we still have a ways to go.”… – MSNBC, 7-31-11
  • Senators Hold Out Hope for Debt Measure Compromise: For once in the long debate on lifting the nation’s debt ceiling, Democrats and Republicans are talking about progress finding a compromise. The Senate is expected to vote on a measure Sunday that would lift the ceiling while calling for $3 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years…. – Portfolio, 7-31-11
  • McConnell: Boehner, Obama ‘wasted’ a week: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took a little swipe Sunday at House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Barack Obama, charging they both “wasted” a week by chucking bombs at each other. “We kind of wasted a week throwing volleys at each other across the Capitol,” McConnell said on “Fox News Sunday.” The deal, he says, was essentially at hand a week ago… – Politico, 7-31-11
  • ‘Really close’ to debt deal as deadline nears: Racing to avoid a government default, President Barack Obama and Republican congressional leaders reached urgently for a compromise Sunday to permit vital borrowing by the Treasury in exchange for more than $2 trillion in long-term spending cuts. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said the two sides were “really, really close” to a deal after months of partisan fighting. Yet he and others stressed that no compromise had been sealed, just two days before a deadline to raise the federal debt limit and enable the government to keep paying its bills.
    As contemplated under a deal that McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden were negotiating, the federal debt limit would rise in two stages by at least $2.2 trillion, enough to tide the Treasury over until after the 2012 elections…. – AP, 7-31-11
  • Senate Blocks Reid’s Debt Ceiling Plan; Talks Continue: Last-ditch budget talks between top Congressional Republicans and President Obama continued on Sunday, as the top Senate Republican and Democrat both expressed optimism that a $3 trillion deal could be reached to avert the economic and political calamity of a potential federal default.
    But without a compromise in hand, the divided Senate could not break a filibuster and went wearily into recess while the leaders resumed their search for something that could pass.
    Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, had convened the Senate at noon, then moved to a procedural vote on his own proposal for raising the debt ceiling. Senate Republicans had been filibustering that plan, which House Republicans rejected on Saturday, and the vote on breaking the filibuster fell 10 votes short of the 60 votes needed under Senate rules. Even so, Mr. Reid said before the cloture vote that he was “cautiously optimistic” that an agreement could be reached today that would make it possible for the Senate to amend his bill and gain bipartisan approval in both chambers…. – NYT, 7-31-11
  • Senate Defeats Reid Plan; Leaders Work to Finalize Deal Today: After the Senate voted this afternoon to defeat Majority Leader Harry Reid’s plan to increase the debt limit, Congressional leaders and staff are continuing to work out the final details of a bipartisan agreement to raise the debt ceiling that can pass through Congress before a lurking financial crisis is fully upon the country.
    The Senate voted largely down party lines to block legislation proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., that would raise the debt limit by $2.4 trillion and cut spending by $2.4 trillion. The House voted Saturday afternoon to defeat legislation crafted after the Reid bill’s language.
    The cloture vote to end a GOP filibuster failed 50-49 and required 60 votes to pass. Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts was the only Senate Republican to vote with the Democrats…. – ABC News, 7-31-11
  • Senate Negotiators Scramble to Finalize Debt Deal After Reid Bill Tanks: Senate leaders scrambled to finalize an emerging compromise on the debt ceiling Sunday, with pressure building to produce a bill that can somehow sail through both chambers in the next two days.
    Congress is running out of time for do-overs, with lawmakers facing an Aug. 2 deadline to either raise the debt cap or face the possibility of default.
    The Senate, after voting against House Republicans’ proposal Friday night, effectively killed Democratic Leader Harry Reid’s counterproposal Sunday afternoon. Sixty votes were required to advance the proposal, and it fell far short in a 50-49 roll call. While the test vote was expected to fail, the outcome stressed how important it is for the latest round of talks to produce a viable alternative.
    Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said talks are proceeding at a furious pace, with Vice President Biden deeply involved…. – Fox News, 7-31-11
  • Senate conservatives say they don’t plan to delay consideration of debt-limit deal: Senate Republican conservatives say they do not plan to delay a bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling, giving Congress a chance to make the Aug. 2 deadline set by President Obama.
    If any member of the Senate withholds his or her consent to speed up the chamber’s floor procedures, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) could not pass legislation to raise the debt limit before Wednesday, according to a Senate aide.
    But conservatives, including members of the Tea Party Caucus, say they do not plan to blow up the floor proceedings in protest of a deal that does not include passage of a balanced budget amendment… – The Hill, 7-31-11
  • Griping begins as debt deal specifics emerge: Members of Congress from both parties fear their leaders may have conceded too much ground in an emerging deal to raise the debt ceiling, a sign of how difficult it’ll be for a sweeping plan to be signed into law before the government begins to default on its debt later this week…. – Politico, 7-31-11
  • Outcry From the Left Precedes Debt Deal: Liberals began tearing into President Obama and Democrats on Sunday, accusing them of caving to Republican demands even before final details of a debt ceiling agreement have been announced…. – NYT, 7-31-11
  • Senate shelves Reid bill as final debt-ceiling plan comes into focus: The Senate floor during a procedural vote on a Democratic plan to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.
    The Senate failed to advance debt-ceiling legislation moved by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, even as lawmakers say progress is being made on a final agreement that they hope can pass before the Aug. 2 deadline to avoid a federal default.
    The vote, initially planned for late Saturday, ultimately proved inconsequential, with leaders working to agree on terms of a new plan. The Senate could return to vote on it Sunday evening if an agreement is reached.
    “We’re cautiously optimistic,” Reid said earlier of talks with his Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. But he added: “As we know, one problem can stop the whole agreement from going forward.”
    Reid said he’s also spoken with Vice President Joe Biden, who is playing a key role in the frenetic final days before the nation could lose the authority to continue borrowing money to pay its bills…. – LAT, 7-31-11
  • Debt Deal Appears to Be At Hand: 1:40 p.m. ET | The Senate blocked a final vote on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s original debt limit bill Sunday afternoon, while negotiations over a final deal continue among congressional leaders and the White House.
    Sen. Reid’s bill will be used as the legislative vehicle to enact whatever deal might be reached. Reid said he was confident a deal could be reached, but that it was not done yet.
    The measure needed 60 votes to proceed, but the vote was 50 to 49.
    11:05 a.m. ET update from David Chalian | A deal between President Obama and bipartisan congressional leaders on raising the nation’s debt limit and averting the risk of default appears to be at hand.
    According to congressional leaders of both parties and senior White House officials, the finishing touches on an agreement to reduce the deficit and raise the debt ceiling before a Tuesday deadline are being hammered out Sunday morning with an expected agreement slated to receive a vote in the Senate in the afternoon…. – PBS Newshour, 7-31-11
  • Compromise Debt Deal in Sight: With the risk of a government default less than three days away, congressional leaders on Sunday said they were getting closer to a deal that raises the government’s borrowing limit and resolves the federal debt crisis.
    “I can pretty confidently say this debt-ceiling increase will avoid default,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said Sunday on CNN.
    The White House and congressional leaders are scrambling to agree on a deal before Aug. 2 to raise the U.S. federal borrowing limit. Follow developments in Washington and reaction globally here.
    Sen. Charles Schumer, a top Democrat from New York, also speaking on CNN, said there was no “final agreement” but that default was “far less of a possibility now than it was even a day ago.” He added, “If there’s a word right here that would sum up the mood, it’s ‘relief.’ “
    Washington leaders face a Tuesday deadline by which the nation’s $14.29 trillion borrowing limit needs to be increased so the government can meet its financial obligations.
    The framework emerging over the weekend likely would allow an immediate increase to the debt ceiling, lasting through the end of 2011, accompanied by government spending reductions of roughly $1 trillion over 10 years.
    To get through 2012, Congress would form a special committee made up of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans to negotiate up to $2 trillion in additional cuts as part of a package containing a further debt-ceiling increase…. – WSJ, 7-31-11
  • Debt-limit agreement begins to take shape: Senate leaders said Sunday that they are nearing agreement on a debt-limit increase of up to $3 trillion that would include many of the ideas both Democrats and Republicans have floated in recent weeks to try to rein in future spending.
    “There is no agreement that has been made, but we’re optimistic one can be,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said on the chamber floor as he opened up a rare Sunday session.
    He said there are plenty of outstanding issues, but he and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said the outlines include a multi-step, long-term debt increase of about $3 trillion, a vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, and a special committee to propose future deficit reduction.
    That committee’s report would come to both chambers under expedited rules that would ensure a vote…. – Washington Times, 7-31-11
  • Debt Limit Agreement ‘Very Close’ to Coming Together: President Obama and congressional leaders are “very close” to reaching a compromise to raise the nation’s debt limit before the August 2 deadline.
    “We’re very close” to a debt limit deal, said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
    The sticking points in negotiations were over tax increases. Republicans would not support a bill that had tax increases, or revenue increases eliminating tax deductions. Democrats would not support a bill that did not include revenue increases. Democrats also said they would not support a bill that made cuts to entitlements (Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security). President Obama wanted a debt limit increase large enough that it would not have to be increased again until after the 2012 elections. Tea Party Republicans said they wanted Congress to pass a balanced budget amendment before the debt ceiling was increased.
    The compromise that is reportedly being worked on would give Republicans what they want (no tax increases), Democrats what they want (no cuts to entitlements), and Obama what he wants (a limit that will last past 2012)…. – Christian Post, 7-31-11
  • McConnell: “Very close” on deal to avoid default: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Sunday that Republicans and White House negotiators were “very close” to a deal on raising the debt ceiling and that an agreement that would prevent the nation from defaulting on its loans was “just within our reach.”
    In an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” McConnell expressed confidence that Congress and the White House could reach a compromise before the Tuesday’s deadline and that “we’ll avoid default, avoid raising taxes and begin to get the government’s house in order by dealing with our biggest problem, which is that we’ve been spending entirely too much.” “We’ve come a long way,” he told CBS’ Bob Schieffer.
    Republicans and Democrats are negotiating a deal that would extend the debt limit through 2012 and cut up to $3 trillion in spending over the next 10 years…. – CBS News, 7-31-11
  • Reid: Cautiously optimistic on debt limit deal: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he’s cautiously optimistic that President Barack Obama and congressional lawmakers will come to a deal on raising the debt limit. But the Nevada Democrat emphasizes that no agreement has been reached.
    Reid’s Republican counterpart, Sen. Mitch McConnell, also says that negotiators are close to an agreement.
    The Senate takes a test vote at 1 p.m. Sunday to move the debate forward…. – AP, 7-31-11
  • Debt Deal ‘Near’; Members Still to be Consulted: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell arrives on Capitol Hill for a postponed vote on the debt ceiling on July 31, 2011 in Washington, D.C.
    Under the threat of a catastrophic U.S. default in three days, congressional leaders and the White House neared agreement Sunday on a plan to lift the debt ceiling and slash $2.8 trillion from the federal deficit in two stages.
    With a final deal expected to be in place as early as Sunday afternoon, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said negotiators are “very, very close” to a deal. Both McConnell and a House GOP leadership aide warned that any agreement will need to be run by members first. Republican members of the Senate were set to meet in the early afternoon…. National Journal, 7-31-11
  • Debt deal still has ‘serious issues,’ says John Boehner: Speaker John Boehner emailed his House Republican colleagues Sunday afternoon acknowledging momentum in negotiations with the White House over a deficit reduction package, but we warned that “serious issues remain.” The Ohio Republican told lawmakers to expect a conference call Sunday afternoon.
    “Discussions are underway on legislation that will cut government spending more than it increases the debt limit, and advance the cause of the balanced budget amendment, without job-killing tax hikes. Those talks are moving in the right direction, but serious issues remain. And no agreement will be final until members have a chance to weigh in. I would expect a conference call for members later this afternoon,” the email to House Republicans read.
    Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) kept the House in session this weekend, with lawmakers staying in Washington awaiting a deal. The House was in on Saturday, and is in a pro forma session Sunday with no votes. The message from Boehner indicates that he will unveil the framework of some compromise this afternoon. It’s also the first indication from Republican leadership that a deal is in the offing…. – Politico, 7-31-11
  • Senate GOP votes to watch in debt-limit drama: Getting any kind of deal to raise the debt limit in the Senate is tricky because 60 votes are needed to break logjams.
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., controls 53 votes: 51 Democratic senators and independents Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.
    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has 47 GOP senators in his caucus.
    There are at least two groups — moderates and Tea Party supporters — within the Senate GOP to watch as the drama over raising the debt limit continues to unfold:
    Moderates: Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine declined on Saturday to sign a letter opposing Reid’s plan to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion in borrowing authority. Brown and Snowe are facing potentially tough re-election fights in 2012…. USA Today, 7-31-11
  • White House: “We don’t have a deal” on debt bill: A top White House official says “we don’t have a deal” between President Obama and Republicans in Congress to avoid a crippling default.
    But senior White House adviser David Plouffe tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” that both sides are generally in agreement on an emerging package that would cut the deficit in two stages, with key details still being worked out.
    Plouffe suggests that negotiations are still focused on how to compel Congress to approve a deficit-cutting plan of tax and entitlement reform later this year.
    Mr. Obama is adamant that the nation’s debt limit be extended into 2013 without being tied to that vote. Republicans want the debt limit to be the “trigger” to force Congress to act…. – CBS News, 7-31-11
  • House Republican to Obama: Stop Tweeting About the Debt Ceiling: A top House Republican mocked President Obama for trying to leverage his Twitter bully pulpit to pressure Congress into approving a debt-limit deal.
    The president took directly to Twitter on Friday to urge followers to inundate Congress with calls for a bipartisan compromise. The plan may have backfired — while some followers indeed voiced their concerns to Congress, tens of thousands cut ties with the president’s Twitter account after being inundated with his messages,
    Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the House Republican whip, urged the president to take a different approach.
    “You cannot be the leader of the free world and sit on the sidelines and tweet and think you’re going to get the job done,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” …
    “We have been out front negotiating, “McCarthy said…. – Fox News, 7-31-11
  • Senate debt vote delayed, but Harry Reid optimistic: A vote is set for around midday Sunday, as the Senate majority leader speaks of a ‘move toward cooperation and compromise.’… – LAT, 7-31-11
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