Political Buzz Debt Ceiling Showdown July 30, 2011: Reid Delays Senate Vote to Sunday Afternoon — Obama, White House Restart Negotiations with Democratic & Republican Senate & House Leaders, Progressing towards Debt Deal

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

Michael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency

Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, walked with Senator Charles Schumer, left, and Senator Patty Murray, right, on Capitol Hill on Saturday.

JULY 30, 2011: OBAMA, WHITE HOUSE RESTARTS NEGOTIATION WITH SENATE/HOUSE DEMOCRATIC & REPUBLICAN LEADERS — REID DELAYS SENATE DEBT PLAN VOTE UNTIL SUNDAY

Reid delays debt vote: Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid announced late Saturday that negotiations with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the White House had made enough progress that he would delay consideration of his own legislation to avert the debt crisis. Rather than a 1 a.m. Sunday vote, Reid said he would give the negotiators room to maneuver and set a 1 p.m. Sunday vote on his bill — which McConnell has already assured would be defeated.

“I’m glad to see this move toward cooperation and compromise. I hope it bears fruit. I’m confident that a final agreement that will adopt the Senate’s long-term approach, rather than the short-term Band-Aid proposed by the House of Representatives, will move forward.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

“I’m confident and optimistic that we’re going to get an agreement in the very near future and resolve this crisis in the best interest of the American peopl. Our country is not going to default for the first time in history. We have now, I think, a level of seriousness with the right people at the table we needed…. We’re going to get a result.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky

“I just spent two hours with the president, the vice president and the agreement is not in a meaningful way. The Republicans still refuse to negotiate in good faith.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada

Speaker Boehner: Time for President Obama to Tell Us His Plan for Ending this Crisis: In a press conference with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) today, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) highlighted the House-passed Budget Control Act – which was negotiated with the bipartisan leadership of the Senate – and said it is time for President Obama and Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) to outline their plan for ending this debt crisis
“Today’s vote on the House floor indicates there’s bipartisan opposition to Senator Reid’s proposal. The House yesterday sent our second bill to end this crisis to the Senate. It’s a reasonable, responsible approach that will end this crisis, get our economy moving again and get Americans back to work.
The only thing standing in the way of the House proposal over in the Senate is the president and Senator Reid. It’s time for them to tell us what they’re for, time to tell us how they’re going to get us out of the cul-de-sac that they’ve driven our country into. So we’re hoping that we’ll hear from them soon about their plan for how we end this crisis.” —

  • Senate delays key debt vote until Sunday: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Saturday delayed a test vote on the Democratic debt limit increase plan until 1 p.m. EDT Sunday to give negotiators more time to work out a deal.
    In brief remarks on the Senate floor, Reid, a Democrat, said that negotiations between congressional leaders and the Obama administration were ongoing, but that there was “still a distance to go” before a deal might be reached…. – Reuters, 7-30-11
  • Senate Delays Vote as Debt Talks Progress: The Senate will delay a crucial vote on the Democratic debt ceiling bill until 1 p.m. Sunday as both Democratic and Republican lawmakers said a potential compromise was in the works that would avert a federal default after midnight on Tuesday.
    The delay averts a 1 a.m. legislative showdown Sunday morning in the Senate, and all-night wrangling that Democrats had threatened on Friday. And it suggests that the looming deadline is working to press both sides toward a last-minute agreement.
    Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, announced just after 10 p.m. Saturday that White House officials had urged him to give more time for negotiations to continue.
    “I believe we should give everyone as much room as possible to do their work,” Mr. Reid said on the Senate floor before adjourning until Sunday afternoon.
    The delay came as Republican lawmakers expressed optimism that talks begun on Saturday with President Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and others were leading toward an agreement. And Mr. Reid said he, too, was now confident that a deal is within reach…. – NYT, 7-30-11
  • Reid: Debt negotiations underway at White House: After weeks of intense partisanship, President Barack Obama and congressional leaders made a last-minute stab at compromise Saturday night to avoid a government default threatened for early next week.
    “There are many elements to be finalized…there is still a distance to go,” Majority Leader Harry Reid cautioned in dramatic late-night remarks on the Senate floor.
    Still, his disclosure that “talks are going on at the White House now,” coupled with his announcement that progress had been made, offered the strongest indication yet that an economy-crippling default might be averted.
    White House officials had no immediate comment.
    Nor was there any immediate reaction from Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell or House Speaker John Boehner, Obama’s principal Republican antagonist in a contentious era of divided government.
    There were no details immediately available on what the terms might be of any compromise…. – AP, 7-30-11
  • Saturday’s debt-ceiling surprise: GOP and Obama are talking again: After a rancorous day in which Republicans vented their anger at the Senate and President Obama, GOP leaders said they are in talks with the president and that ‘the country is not going to default.’
    There were signs of movement toward a potential resolution of the federal government’s debt ceiling crisis after both the House and Senate met in unusual Saturday sessions notable for partisan fireworks.
    House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D) of California and Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada were called to the White House for a 3:30 p.m. meeting about debt-ceiling negotiations with President Obama.
    At about the same time on Capitol Hill, House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky gave a press conference and expressed optimism about reaching a settlement that would keep the nation from being unable to borrow enough to pay its bills.
    Senator McConnell said that he had spoken to both Mr. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden “in the last hour,” and that the White House was “now fully engaged” in conversations with the two Republican leaders about the debt-ceiling crisis. Speaker Boehner said he and McConnell were “both confident” they could “end this impasse.” McConnell added, “Our country is not going to default. We are going to get a result.”… CS Monitor, 7-30-11
  • Last-minute debt deal still eludes Congress: In public, at least, neither Democrats nor Republicans show much inclination to work out an accord as the clock ticks toward a federal default.
    Efforts to reach a last-minute deal to stave off a potentially disastrous federal default remained at an impasse Saturday as House Republicans engaged in some psychological warfare and their colleagues in the Senate seemed poised to block a key vote on a bid by Democrats to raise the debt ceiling.
    With just days to go until the federal government’s authority to borrow money expires, neither Democrats nor Republicans showed much inclination to bridge their differences and hammer out a deal.
    Instead, the action — at least the events playing out in public view — suggested that partisan distrust remained as high as ever. The House convened only to take a purely symbolic thumbs-down vote on a debt plan crafted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), even though that plan hasn’t yet cleared the Senate…. – LAT, 7-30-11
  • In Senate, bitter debate but little agreement on Democratic debt plan: With the deadline for a debt limit increase inching perilously closer, Congress remained deadlocked Saturday over how to avoid a crisis as both houses spent the day publicly mired in often tart, even defiant partisan votes and rhetoric.
    Privately, the White House was talking to leaders of both parties – but those leaders had sharply different views about the outlook.
    “The process has not been moved forward during this day,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, after he and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., met with President Barack Obama for nearly 90 minutes.
    But House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio told a news conference he was “confident that we’re going to be able to come to some agreement with the White House and end this impasse.”
    And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he spoke to Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday afternoon, and added that “we are now fully engaged, the speaker and I,” with Obama.
    “Our country is not going to default for the first time in history,” said McConnell, R-Kentucky. “We have now, I think, a level of seriousness with the right people at the table we needed…. We’re going to get a result.”
    Reid, D-Nevada, with fellow senators huddling around him and watching intently, took to the Senate floor to dispute McConnell’s account with a harsh tone rarely used to discuss the opposition’s tactics in the genteel Senate. Reports a deal could be close are “not true,” Reid said.
    With McConnell standing a few feet away, Reid charged the GOP leaders were “holding meaningless press conferences.”
    And, Reid said, “I just spent two hours with the president, the vice president and the agreement is not in a meaningful way. The Republicans still refuse to negotiate in good faith.”
    McConnell swung back, saying, “I think we’ve got a chance of getting there. What I think is not helpful is the process we’re going through here on the Senate floor … .”
    The day began when the Republican-run House of Representatives voted 246-173 to reject a new Reid plan that would reduce deficits by more than $2.2 trillion over 10 years and raise the debt limit in three stages.
    The Senate debated the plan throughout the day Saturday, and scheduled a post-midnight vote on whether to cut off debate. The vote was expected to fall short of the 60 votes needed, since 43 Republicans sent Reid a letter saying they opposed the measure…. – McClatchy Newspapers, 7-30-11
  • Democrats, GOP Disagree on Whether a Debt-Limit Deal Is Near: With the nation only three days away from facing its first-ever financial default, congressional Republican and Democratic leaders couldn’t even agree on whether a deal to end the debt crisis is close.
    House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Saturday that they are confident they can reach a deal with the White House to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit to allow the government to keep paying all of its bills.
    At a news conference held just minutes after the GOP-led House defeated a Democratic debt-limit bill, McConnell said he had spoken with President Obama and Vice President Biden in the past hour.
    “I’m confident and optimistic that we’re going to get an agreement in the very near future and resolve this crisis in the best interest of the American people,” he said.
    “Our country is not going to default for the first time in history,” McConnell said.”We now have a level of seriousness with the right people at the table. ….We’re going to get a result.”
    Boehner added he’s also confident of an agreement with the White House “to end this impasse.”
    But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid disputed their account on the Senate floor after meeting with the president and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi at the White House.
    “Republican leaders still refuse to negotiate in good faith,” Reid said, explaining that they still refuse to consider including new revenues in any deal and only want to slash entitlement programs.
    Republican leaders “should know that merely saying you have an agreement in front of television cameras doesn’t make it so.”
    McConnell responded that he’s more optimistic than Reid and that the only way to get to an agreement before Tuesday is through the president.
    “We need to be in a position where all of us in the leadership can come back here and say that we think we reached a framework of an agreement that we can recommend to our members,” he said. “So that’s what I’m working on and I’m not interested in scoring any political points. I’m interested in getting an outcome for the American people. And the only way that can be done is with the president of the United States.”
    Earlier Saturday, the House defeated Reid’s bill that would raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit by $2.4 trillion while cutting spending by $2.2 trillion. But the Senate hasn’t voted on the bill yet and is planning a test vote in the wee hours of Sunday morning to break a GOP filibuster…. – Fox News, 7-30-11
  • Debt deal not close, Senator Reid says: Republicans and Democrats are not close to a deal to raise the debt ceiling despite what Republican leaders may say, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said on Saturday.
    “It’s fair to say that the engagement there is not in any meaningful way,” Reid said on the Senate floor shortly after returning from a meeting with President Barack Obama. “Republican leaders still refuse to negotiate in good faith.”… – Reuters, 7-30-11
  • McConnell says he’s spoken to Obama ‘within last hour’: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Saturday afternoon that he had talked to President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden “within the last hour” and is “confident and optimistic” that there will be an “agreement within the very near future.” A national default “is not going to happen,” McConnell said.
    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, also expressed optimism that an agreement is near. “In spite of our differences, we’re dealing with reasonable, responsible people,” Boehner said…. – CNN, 7-30-11
  • Obama huddles with Democrats in hunt for debt deal: US President Barack Obama held an urgent White House summit with key Democratic allies Saturday as his Republican foes said fever-pitch efforts to avert a disastrous debt default would soon pay off.
    “That’s not true,” Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, pouring cold water on the upbeat Republican message after talks with Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
    With three days before a midnight Tuesday deadline, Obama stayed largely out of sight but warned in his weekly address that “very little time” remains to reach a deal to raise the $14.3 trillion dollar US debt ceiling…. – AFP, 7-30-11
  • Reid and Pelosi head to White House for debt meeting: A White House official says President Barack Obama will meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi at the White House at 3:30 pm to receive an update on the situation in the House and Senate…. – CNN, 7-30-11
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Political Buzz Debt Ceiling Showdown July 30, 2011: Reid v. McConnell — Senate Republicans Rally Against Reid’s Debt Ceiling Plan — Congress Votes 246-173 Against Reid Plan — President Obama & Sen. Jon Kyl’s Weekly Addresses Focus on Debt Crisis

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 Mitch McConnell and Speaker John A. Boehner spoke at a press conference on Saturday.

JULY 30, 2011: REID V. MCCONNELL — PARTISAN VOTES IN SENATE & HOUSE CONTINUE IMPASSE IN DEBT CEILING CRISIS — CONGRESS VOTES 246 TO 173 AGAINST REID DEBT PLAN —

House GOP rejects Reid debt-ceiling bill: Republicans in the House of Representatives have rejected a bill that mirrors a proposal by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) to raise the debt ceiling through 2012, a symbolic gesture of disapproval as the Senate continues to debate Reid’s measure and discuss a possible compromise.

Reid plan in jeopardy: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) delivered a letter Saturday afternoon to Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), signed by 43 Republicans, declaring that Reid’s debt-limit legislation was unacceptable. Needing 60 votes to clear a filibuster hurdle, Reid’s current draft is assured of failure in a 1 a.m. vote Sunday. McConnell demanded that President Obama re-engage in negotiations. “It isn’t going to pass, let’s get talking to the administration,” McConnell said Saturday in a floor speech.

“The only possible justification for a $2.4 trillion increase in borrowing authority is to allow the President to avoid any accountability for these issues before his 2012 election. It is by constantly putting off these tough decisions that we have found ourselves with a national debt nearly equal to the size of our gross domestic product. The time for action is now, we cannot wait until we accumulate another $2.4 trillion in debt.” — Mitch McConnell, 43 Senators Sign Letter Opposing The Reid Bill

“It must have the support of both parties that were sent here to represent the American people – not just one faction of one party. There are multiple ways to resolve this problem. Congress must find common ground on a plan that can get support from both parties in the House. And it’s got to be a plan that I can sign by Tuesday.” — President Barack Obama in his Weekly Address

“Republicans in the House of Representatives just spent precious days trying to pass a plan that a majority of Republicans and Democrats in the Senate had already said they wouldn’t vote for. It’s a plan that wouldn’t solve our fiscal problems, but would force us to relive this crisis in just a few short months. It would hold our economy captive to Washington politics once again. If anything, the past few weeks have demonstrated that’s unacceptable….
Look, the parties are not that far apart here. We’re in rough agreement on how much spending we need to cut to reduce our deficit. We agree on a process to tackle tax reform and entitlement reform. There are plenty of ways out of this mess. But there is very little time.” — President Barack Obama in his Weekly Address

“We start from the understanding that the reason the debt ceiling is a problem is because of runaway Washington spending. So, Republicans have been united in the belief that raising the debt ceiling without making significant spending reductions would be irresponsible…
“The simple fact is, in order to afford the kind of government this President wants, taxes would have to be increased dramatically – and for middle income Americans, not just on the wealthy.” – — Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) in the Republican Weekly Address

“Republicans believe we must solve our debt crisis – and we believe we can solve it if Democrats will work with us. No one will get everything they want, and we can’t solve all of our problems at once, but surely we can reach an agreement that will increase the debt ceiling, impose accountability, and begin reducing the size of our federal government.” — Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) in the Republican Weekly Address

“I stuck my neck out a mile to try to get an agreement with the president of the United States. I stuck my neck out a mile, and I put revenues on the table in order to try to get an agreement to avert us being where we are. But a lot of people in this town can never say yes. I have offered ideas. I have negotiated. Not one time, not one time, did the administration put any plan on the table. All they would do is criticize what I put out.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

  • The Weekend Word: Rejection NYT, 7-30-11
  • FACTBOX-What’s ahead in the U.S. debt limit fight — Reuters, 7-30-11
  • Stalemate as Congress Wrangles Over Debt Crisis: Congressional leaders fought, huddled with President Obama and hinted at an emerging bipartisan deal to end the federal fiscal crisis in a tense Saturday on Capitol Hill, but the stalemate over raising the debt limit persisted just days from a potential default.
    In the most vivid illustration yet of the confusion surrounding the debt crisis, the two leading Congressional Republicans announced that they had reopened fiscal talks with the White House in a last-ditch drive to come to terms, only to have the top Senate Democrat leader quickly dismiss the idea that a breakthrough was at hand.
    In the wake of the House’s sharp rejection of a Democratic proposal to raise the debt limit, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader and a linchpin in efforts to reach a deal, said he and Speaker John A. Boehner were “now fully engaged” in efforts with the White House to find a resolution that would tie an increase in the debt limit to spending cuts and other conditions…. – NYT, 7-30-11
  • House Rejects Reid Debt Ceiling Proposal: The Republican-controlled House on Saturday dismissed a new proposal by Senate Democrats to end the fiscal crisis before the Senate even voted on it, deepening the ongoing federal budget stalemate.
    In an effort to send a message to Senate leaders of both parties, the House voted 173 to 246 against the proposal by Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, to show it had no future in the House.
    During a heated debate, Republicans and Democrats traded accusations over who would be responsible for a government default if no compromise was reached by next Tuesday, with Republicans defending the plan they sent to the Senate on Friday only to see it rejected almost immediately.
    On Twitter, Speaker John A. Boehner called the Senate measure “DOA” and a “non-starter in the House.” Republicans also said the $2.5 trillion in savings in the measure were illusory…. – NYT, 7-30-11
  • House rejects Reid’s debt plan: The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has rejected the debt ceiling plan proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada.
    The plan was rejected in a sharply polarized 173-246 vote. Republicans unanimously opposed the measure while most Democrats backed it.
    GOP leaders conducted the vote on Reid’s bill under rules requiring a two-thirds majority for passage, thereby ensuring its defeat…. – CNN, 7-30-11
  • 43 Senate Republicans oppose Dem debt bill: Forty-three Senate Republicans say they oppose Democratic leader Harry Reid’s bill to cut spending and raise the nation’s borrowing authority.
    In a letter released Saturday, the GOP lawmakers said the bill “completely fails” to address the nation’s fiscal imbalance and relies on gimmicks to cut spending. Reid’s measure would raise the debt limit by up to $2.4 trillion…. – AP, 7-30-11
  • All Senate Republicans oppose Democratic debt bill: All 43 Republicans in the U.S. Senate have signed a letter, released on Saturday, saying they will not vote for a Democratic plan to raise the debt limit in a sign that the measure does not have the support it needs to advance in Congress.
    Democrats need at least seven Republican votes to clear a procedural vote in the 100-seat chamber. That vote is scheduled for 1 a.m. EDT (0500 GMT) on Sunday…. – Reuters, 7-30-11
  • Senate Wrangles Before Debt Vote: The high-stakes debate over raising the U.S. debt limit remained deadlocked Saturday afternoon, as both Democrats and Republicans considered their next moves less than four days before the U.S. could begin defaulting on some obligations.
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) has scheduled a series of votes beginning Sunday morning at 1 a.m. on his proposal to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion, though whether or not he can garner the 60 votes necessary to move forward with the bill remains in question….
    Mr. McConnell, speaking just after Mr. Reid, countered that Mr. Reid should abandon his legislation. He and 42 other Republican senators sent a letter to the majority leader saying they oppose the Reid measure.
    “It will not pass the Senate, it will not pass the House, it’s simply a non-starter,” Mr. McConnell said.
    House Republicans, meanwhile, scheduled a symbolic midafternoon vote on Mr. Reid’s proposal, which is likely to be voted down by House lawmakers. A House GOP leadership aide said the Senate was wasting time by focusing on Mr. Reid’s “doomed bill.”… – WSJ, 7-30-11
  • House set to reject Reid debt plan as endgame nears: The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is set to reject Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s plan to raise the nation’s debt ceiling Saturday — partisan payback for the Democratic-controlled Senate’s rejection of Speaker John Boehner’s plan Friday night.
    The twin votes are a likely prelude to a long weekend of furious back-room negotiations between congressional leaders looking for a way to end a tense political standoff and avoid a potentially catastrophic federal default next week…. – CNN, 7-30-11
  • Congressional leaders struggle to work out bipartisan debt deal: With just three days to go before Congress’s deadline to raise the debt ceiling and avoid sending the country into default, leaders continued to struggle Saturday to work out a bipartisan deal that can pass both chambers and be signed into law by President Obama.
    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) delivered a letter Saturday afternoon to Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), signed by 43 Republicans, declaring that Reid’s debt-limit legislation was unacceptable.
    Needing 60 votes to clear a filibuster hurdle, Reid’s current draft is assured of failure in a 1 a.m. vote Sunday. McConnell demanded that President Obama re-engage in negotiations. “It isn’t going to pass,” McConnell said Saturday in a floor speech. “Let’s get talking to the administration.”… – WaPo, 7-30-11
  • Senate headed for critical debt vote Sunday: The Senate is driving toward a climactic and dramatic vote at 1 a.m. Sunday that could determine whether a bipartisan deal to raise the nation’s legal borrowing limit is possible or a government default is likely….
    Speedier action would require unanimous agreement from all senators, including conservatives who have vowed not to raise the debt ceiling without congressional approval of a balanced budget amendment to the constitution, and it wasn’t clear that would be forthcoming.
    Senators instead moved forward with an alternative advanced by Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), which would raise the debt ceiling through the 2012 election, but they hoped to amend the bill in coming days if a bipartisan compromise is reached.
    Now, Senate rules require a full day in between Reid introducing the measure Friday night and a vote to cut off debate, leading to a key vote early Sunday.
    Closing debate will require the approval of 60 senators, meaning Reid will require at least seven Republican votes to clear that hurdle.
    If the measure cleared that hurdle, the final passage would require a simple majority of senators to send the bill to the House. Without unanimous agreement, however, it would require an additional 30 hours of debate for that final vote, meaning 7:30 a.m. Monday would be the earliest a final vote could happen.
    Then, the measure would return to the House on Monday, where it would face a final critical vote — with the outcome deeply uncertain, as world markets watch nervously…. – WaPo, 7-30-11
  • Washington’s warring weekend: Dueling votes, parties and loyalties: Warring House and Senate votes late Friday set up a tense weekend of confrontation — and what the White House hopes are still meaningful negotiations — before markets reopen Monday, one day before the threat of default….
    Much depends still on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is deeply worried by the prospect of default and has had a running series of conversations with Vice President Joe Biden to try to defuse the crisis. McConnell was frozen in place out of loyalty to Boehner during the House debate but even after, Democrats complained that he was restraining his rank-and-file members from participating in talks.
    “There is a growing sentiment by senators on both sides of the aisle to sit down and reach a reasonable compromise to save our economy from the disaster that awaits us,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) “What these senators on the Republican side are waiting for is a permission slip from Sen. McConnell.”
    That would be a vintage McConnell approach, but aides to the Republican leader said he is fully prepared to begin talks with Reid and others, as long as President Barack Obama is also represented at the table.
    There’s been bad blood between McConnell and Reid after a falling out last weekend over debt talks also involving Boehner. But McConnell’s office expressed confidence that a deal could yet be reached with the White House represented…. – Politico, 7-30-11
  • Debt Deadlock: The Road Ahead: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says the White House must be present if there are negotiations toward a deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, according to Democratic and Republican sources familiar with the situation.
    If those talks get going, Democratic officials maintain things could move quickly because a lot of the details were hashed out over nearly two months of deficit talks between Vice President Joe Biden and congressional leaders, as well as during negotiations on a grand bargain between President Obama and the congressional leadership…. – CNN, 7-30-11
  • Harry Reid debt ceiling bill to be targeted by House on Saturday: Reid and other Senate Democratic leaders have already declared the Boehner plan dead-on-arrival in the Senate.
    In order to show Reid’s package would face a similar fate in their chamber, House Republicans will do force a vote on Saturday.
    The Nevada Democrat’s package, which includes a single debt limit hike, is likely to see support from House Democrats, but little from the GOP…. – Politico, 7-30-11
  • Obama pressures Congress for debt deal: President Barack Obama struck an urgent tone in his weekly address Saturday, telling members of Congress that he needs a debt ceiling deal on his desk before next week’s deadline.
    “Congress must find common ground on a plan that can get support from both parties in the House,” Obama said. “And it’s got to be a plan that I can sign by Tuesday.”
    Obama’s remarks come one day after the House voted along party lines to pass a Republican-sponsored debt plan. The bill was tabled without a vote in the Democratically-controlled Senate.
    In his address, Obama said that that such maneuvers weren’t helpful in staving off a debt crisis…. – CNN, 7-30-11
  • GOP lays out consequences of missing debt deadline — Jon Kyl Republican Weekly Address: With Congress and the White House still at odds on raising America’s debt ceiling, Republicans used their weekly address to illustrate the dire risks of missing next week’s deadline for reaching a deal….
    Kyl cited debt crises spreading across Europe as examples of what could happen if politicians don’t strike a deal before early next week.
    Kyl criticized the way Democrats were approaching the debt ceiling negotiations, saying they had failed to recognize the opportunity to cut spending…. – CNN, 7-30-11
  • Moody’s: Boehner and Reid bills won’t cut it: Neither of the debt ceiling bills before Congress would meaningfully alter the country’s debt trajectory and thus won’t bolster the United States’ chance of preserving its AAA rating, a key rating agency said Friday.
    “Reductions of the magnitude now being proposed, if adopted, would likely lead Moody’s to adopt a negative outlook on the AAA rating,” Moody’s Investors Service said…. – CNN, 7-30-11
  • Reid and McConnell: The Senate’s odd couple: By all measures, Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell are worlds apart when it comes to their politics. But there’s at least one thing solidifying their relationship.
    “Both are institutionalists at heart,” said Jim Manley, a former spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Reid, a Nevada Democrat. “They come from completely different ideologies but both have the respect from their caucus.” He added that while they’re not the best of friends, their bond is strong… – CNN, 7-30-11
  • Analysis: Debt mess shows Washington’s awful side: There is no changing how Washington works. It doesn’t. Even if a bitterly divided Congress and President Barack Obama avoid a U.S. debt default by striking a last-second deal, as all sides expect, plenty of damage has been done.
    People are disgusted. Confidence in the political system is tanking. Nothing else is getting done in Washington. The markets are spooked. The global reputation of the United States has slipped.
    And the real kicker? This whole wrenching effort to shrink the debt may actually increase the debt.
    Any emergency deal may not be broad enough to prevent the major credit rating agencies from downgrading the United States as a rock-solid investment. That, in turn, could increase the cost of borrowing for the government (hence more interest and debt), not to mention for everyone else.
    The spectacle has brought Washington to its knees. Obama went on TV before the nation and called it a circus. One lawmaker felt compelled to apologize to the American people…. – AP, 7-30-11
  • The Debt-Limit Hobbits The GOP fantasy caucus is empowering Nancy Pelosi: Political logic and perhaps even common sense seem to be prevailing within the House GOP after Thursday’s debt-ceiling vote was postponed—at least among most of the caucus. The shame is that the debt-limit absolutists have weakened Speaker John Boehner’s hand in negotiating a final bill with Senate Democrats.
    At the most practical level, Mr. Boehner’s plan is better than the one Harry Reid supports in the Senate. This remains true of the revisions Mr. Boehner released yesterday, though the irony is that it is less credible and weaker politically than the previous version. The concession the holdouts demanded, and got—a balanced budget amendment—ensures that it cannot pass the Senate. The best but unlikely scenario is that the bill otherwise remains intact…. – WSJ, 7-30-11
  • For Reid, Durbin, and Obama, a (very) partisan record on debt ceiling: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has frequently accused Republicans of playing partisan politics in the debt ceiling crisis… A look at Reid’s record, however, shows that in the last decade his own voting on the issue of the debt ceiling is not only partisan but perfectly partisan. According to “The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases,” a January 2010 report by the Congressional Research Service, the Senate has passed ten increases to the debt limit since 2000. Reid never voted to increase the debt ceiling when Republicans were in control of the Senate, and he always voted to increase the debt ceiling when Democrats were in control.
    At look at the number-two Democrat in the Senate, Richard Durbin’s record shows that he, too, has voted along absolutely partisan lines. In the last decade, Durbin never voted to increase the debt ceiling when Republicans were in control and always voted to increase the debt ceiling when Democrats were in control. As for Obama, there were four votes to raise the debt ceiling when he was in the Senate. He missed two of them, voted no once when Republicans were in charge, and voted yes once when Democrats were in charge… – Washington Examiner, 7-30-11
  • Debt-ceiling crisis: Why won’t Republicans compromise?: The hardcore Republican debt hawks fueled by November’s tea party victories say that Congress has historically gone back on promised spending cuts. So far, they are refusing to budge without some guarantee that the cuts will actually materialize…. – CS Monitor, 7-30-11
  • Houses passes Boehner’s debt deal, but at what price?: …But the price Boehner has paid for his victory may be bigger than he hoped for or predicted. The speaker at times look liked he was a hostage of his 87-member, tea party inspired freshmen class. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) threatened to overshadow him. Senate Republican leaders have already acknowledged that the Boehner plan can’t pass that body, and even if it did, Obama would greet it with a veto. That leaves Boehner with a weakened negotiating hand heading into showdown with Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Politico, 7-29-11

Full Text Debt Ceiling Showdown July 30, 2011: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Calls for Vote on Harry Reid Flawed Debt Ceiling Bill

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THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS:

McConnell Calls for Vote Today on Flawed Reid Bill

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement on the Senate floor Saturday in which he called for a vote today on the Democrats’ flawed debt limit increase proposal:

“I don’t blame anybody for being confused about what’s been going on in Congress this week. But I’d like to take a moment to explain what’s going on right now.

“Last night, the Democrats who control the Senate proposed a bill that would lead to the largest debt ceiling increase in the history of the United States, and which completely ignores the roots of this crisis.

“This bill has one goal: to get the President through his next election without having to have another national debate about the consequences of his policies.

“The President wants to make sure this kind of debate doesn’t happen again — even as he gets Democrats in Congress to give him permission to add trillions more to the debt.

“That’s what the Reid bill does.

“It isn’t going anywhere.

“Senate Republicans refuse to go along with this transparently political and deeply irresponsible ploy to give the President cover to make our debt crisis even worse than it already is.

“And 43 of us have now signed a letter to the Majority Leader pledging that “we will not vote for your $2.4 trillion debt limit amendment which, if enacted, would result in the single largest debt ceiling increase in the history of the United States”.

“Moreover, we will soon know with certainty that this bill can’t pass the House of Representatives.

They’ll be voting on this proposal this afternoon.

“And I’m certain it will fail there as well.

“So, since there is no possibility that this bill will be enacted into law, I’ve suggested to the Majority Leader that he hold the vote on it here right now.

“Let’s not waste another minute of the nation’s time on this reckless piece of legislation that we know won’t pass.

“Earlier this week, the Majority Leader told the Speaker of the House he was wasting the nation’s time by proceeding with a bill that Senate Democrats had pledged to block…a bill that the Majority Leader himself helped put together, but which he decided to oppose after the President said he didn’t like it.

“So the question now is this: why would the Majority Leader waste the nation’s time by refusing to vote on his own bill, which we also know will fail? Why wouldn’t he take his own advice and get it over with?

“Well, the answer is obvious: Democrats are running out the clock. They want to delay the hard work of negotiation until the August 2 deadline they’ve been warning us about all summer.

“The Democrat’s entire strategy this week has been to run out the clock so the nation focuses more on the August 2 deadline than on their own failure to do something about the underlying problem.

“Republicans have now passed two pieces of legislation that would put us on the path to fiscal sanity.

Democrats have spent the last few weeks time figuring out how to avoid it

“Democrats have spent their time talking about the Tea Party instead of talking about a solution. They have done absolutely nothing but stand in the way of a meaningful solution to this crisis … and criticize Republicans for having the audacity to suggest that we balance the books.

“So now we’re reduced to this: they won’t even allow a vote on their own bill.

“They’re delaying the inevitable so they can avoid doing anything responsible.

“And it’s indefensible.

“So once again, I would ask the Majority Leader to let us vote on his legislation.

“Let’s get this irresponsible bill that we know will fail come up for a vote.

“So we can get down to the real work of negotiating a solution to this crisis.

“With the President.

“The lesson from last weekend is that anything the two parties agree to here doesn’t mean a thing if the President decides he doesn’t like it; that Democrats will abandon their own agreements if the President doesn’t support them.

“We don’t have time for that to happen again.

“Republicans have proposed solution and after solution to this crisis. It’s time Democrats propose one of their own.”

Full Text Debt Ceiling Showdown July 30, 2011: Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Statement on Senate Floor on the Necessity for Republicans & Democrats to Cooperate on a Debt Deal before Deadline

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THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

Harry Reid: Republicans Must Work With Democrats On The Only Option Left To Avert Default, Save Our Economy

Source: Reid.Senate.gov, 7-30-11

July 30, 2011

Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the only viable debt ceiling compromise to avert a default. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Republicans leaders in the House of Representatives wasted this week pursuing a right-wing proposal they knew from the start could not pass the Senate.

From the very beginning the Speaker’s Band-Aid approach was fatally flawed – it would have put us back in this incredible position, fighting the clock to prevent financial collapse, in just a few weeks.

It was a concession to Tea Party extremists, yet it barely passed the House yesterday with only Republican votes. And it failed on a bipartisan basis last night in the Senate.

But knowing all along that this radical legislation – which was neither balanced nor bipartisan – would not and could not pass in our chamber, Democrats have been working on a true compromise in the Senate.

We have solicited ideas from our Republican friends and colleagues. Let it never be said that Democrats in the Senate were afraid to compromise. We welcome it.

As recently as yesterday morning I asked my friend, the Senate Minority Leader, to help make this Senate compromise more palatable to Republicans. Yet we have heard nothing from the Republican leader.

My friend, Sen. McConnell, did not answer the call to negotiate yesterday or any other day this week. He did not come to the table on behalf of his caucus with ideas to improve a proposal already cut from Republican cloth.

But Democrats are still willing to sit down and negotiate. My door is still open.

I appreciate that several of my Republican colleagues have reached out to me over the last few hours, hoping to reach a compromise. Senate Democrats welcome their input and look forward to working with them on a path forward.

But my friend, the Republican leader of the Senate, must come forward as well.

The two parties must work together to forge an agreement that preserves this nation’s economy. We will need the help of reasonable Republicans – including Sen. McConnell – to get this done.

But unbelievably, another filibuster stands in our path.

The Republican filibuster has become routine. From the smallest measure to the greatest matter of national importance, they stall and delay and use every procedural trick in the book to keep this body from doing its job.

But a filibuster at this late hour, and when so much is at risk, is irresponsible. It puts our economy at risk.

A majority vote was good enough for the Speaker’s proposal in the House of Representatives yesterday, but Republicans believe it isn’t good enough for the Senate today.

Rather than filibuster, I ask that my Republican colleagues work with Democrats to make our proposal better.

We have offered a reasonable, rational way for Republicans to help us avert default. Let me tell you about it.

This amendment was written by Democrats with both parties’ principles in mind. It would:

•    Avert default while cutting about $2.4 trillion from the deficit over a decade.  It includes no revenues, a concession to House Republicans.
•    It establishes a Joint Congressional Committee to find additional savings this year, and guarantees that committee’s recommendations will see an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.
•    And literally every single spending cut in it has been voted for or endorsed by Republicans in both houses of Congress.

We have made several changes to make this proposition amenable to our Republican colleagues. We have:

•    Improved the program integrity language to allow more savings by combating government waste and fraud.
•    Removed a measure that would have raised revenue by selling spectrum, which would have caused a Blue Slip process in the House.
•    Added a process conceived of by my friend, Sen. McConnell, to allow two additional votes over the next year and a half – two motions of disapproval – before the President may raise the debt ceiling.

This proposal also protects Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits. But as you can see, this amendment was designed to appeal to our Republican colleagues as well as to Democrats.

As I said, we are willing to listen to ideas from the other side to make this proposal better. But time is short.

Already the economy has gone from bad to worse. Stocks continued a weeklong slide yesterday.

I know my Republican colleagues love this country. I believe they want to do what is best for our economy.

That is why together we must avert a default that would jeopardize veterans’ benefits, seniors’ Social Security payments and checks for troops on the front lines. It would also effectively raise taxes on every American family and business, increasing the cost of everything from groceries to the mortgage.

And so I urge them to join me to move forward the only true compromise plan left – in fact, the only option left at all – to save this country from default.”

Full Text Debt Ceiling Showdown July 30, 2011: Senator Jon Kyl Gives Republican Weekly Address — Discusses Debt Ceiling Crisis

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THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS:

Weekly Remarks by Sen. Jon Kyl — As Provided by Republican Party Leadership

Good morning.  I am Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona.

By now, most Americans know that lawmakers in Washington are engaged in a difficult debate about the nation’s ‘debt ceiling,’ the legal limit to the amount of money the federal government can borrow.

The debt ceiling is currently set at a little more than 14 trillion dollars, and if Congress and the president don’t reach an agreement to raise it by this coming Tuesday, the Treasury secretary tells us America will no longer be able to pay all its bills.

The consequences of missing this deadline could be severe, precisely because Washington….

…borrows so much money — more than 40 cents out of every dollar it spends. So, spending would have to shrink by 40% very quickly.

What’s more, markets would likely respond, dropping in value and hurting the retirement savings of millions of Americans.

Republicans have tried to work with Democrats to avoid this result and put our country on a better path, but we need them to work with us.

We start from the understanding that the reason the debt ceiling is a problem is because of runaway Washington spending. So, Republicans have been united in the belief that raising the debt ceiling without making significant spending reductions would be irresponsible. Arizona republican senator Jon Kyl

With debt crises rolling across Europe, we know it is only a matter of time before people start to question whether America can sustain its huge and growing debt.

If we don’t do something about our spending problem now, the scenes we’ve seen playing out all across Europe could happen in America.

If we don’t change the way Washington operates, we will not get control of our government, or our future.

In short, we hoped that the need to increase the debt ceiling could be an opportunity to make some very hard decisions to reduce government spending.

Unfortunately, after weeks of negotiations, it became clear that Democrats in Washington did not view this crisis as an opportunity to rein in spending. Instead, they saw it as an opportunity to impose huge tax increases on American families and small businesses.

President Obama is simply too committed to the European-style of big government that his policies have set in motion. To Democrats in Washington, the answer isn’t to cut spending, but to raise taxes and keep on spending.

Democrats claim they would only target the privileged few. But behind the scenes they argue for much broader tax increases.

The simple fact is, in order to afford the kind of government this president wants, taxes would have to be increased dramatically — and for middle-income Americans, not just on the wealthy.

Job-killing tax increases are the wrong medicine for our struggling economy. Back in 2009, President Obama admitted that you don’t raise taxes in the middle of a recession. This advice is just as true today.

At the moment, more than 14 million Americans are looking for work and can’t find it. According to economists, a healthy economy is one in which unemployment is around 5%. The unemployment rate today is 9.2%.

And we got more bad news yesterday: Our economy grew at an annual rate of just 1.3% in the second quarter and the first-quarter growth was downgraded to just four tenths of one percent. Raising taxes will only make this worse. And prolonging the debt crisis will only add to the ongoing economic uncertainty.

Republicans believe we must solve our debt crisis — and we believe we can solve it if Democrats will work with us.  No one will get everything they want, and we can’t solve all of our problems at once, but surely we can reach an agreement that will increase the debt ceiling, impose accountability, and begin reducing the size of our federal government.

That may not be what some in Washington really want. But it’s what Americans, and the American economy, really need.

Full Text Debt Ceiling Showdown July 30, 2011: President Obama’s Weekly Address — Wants Bipartisan Compromise Debt Deal

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THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS:

President Barack Obama tapes his Weekly Address
White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 7/29/11

Weekly Address: Compromise on Behalf of the American People

Source: WH, 7-30-11

President Obama urges both Republicans and Democrats to take action to avoid defaulting for the first time in our nation’s history.

Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

WEEKLY ADDRESS: Acting Responsibly on Behalf of the American People

WASHINGTON—In this week’s address, President Obama urged both Republicans and Democrats to take action to avoid defaulting for the first time in our nation’s history.  While the two parties are not far apart in their goals, they must resolve their differences quickly so that the United States can continue paying its Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and contracts with thousands of American businesses.  The time has come to stop endangering the Triple A bond rating of the United States, put aside partisan politics, and behave responsibly to ensure a balanced approach to reducing our nation’s deficit.

Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address Saturday, July 30, 2011 Washington, DC

Today, I’d like to speak with you about the ongoing and urgent efforts to avoid a first-ever default and get our fiscal house in order.

Republicans in the House of Representatives just spent precious days trying to pass a plan that a majority of Republicans and Democrats in the Senate had already said they wouldn’t vote for.  It’s a plan that wouldn’t solve our fiscal problems, but would force us to re-live this crisis in just a few short months.  It would hold our economy captive to Washington politics once again.  If anything, the past few weeks have demonstrated that’s unacceptable.

Any solution to avoid default must be bipartisan.  It must have the support of both parties that were sent here to represent the American people – not just one faction of one party.  There are multiple ways to resolve this problem.  Congress must find common ground on a plan that can get support from both parties in the House.  And it’s got to be a plan that I can sign by Tuesday.

Look, the parties are not that far apart here.  We’re in rough agreement on how much spending we need to cut to reduce our deficit.  We agree on a process to tackle tax reform and entitlement reform.  There are plenty of ways out of this mess.  But there is very little time.

We need to reach a compromise by Tuesday so that our country will have the ability to pay its bills on time – bills like Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and contracts we’ve signed with thousands of American businesses.  If we don’t, for the first time ever, we could lose our country’s Triple A credit rating.  Not because we didn’t have the capacity to pay our bills – we do – but because we didn’t have a Triple A political system to match it.  And make no mistake – for those who reflexively oppose tax increases on anyone, a lower credit rating would be a tax increase on everyone – we’d pay higher interest rates on mortgages, car loans, and credit cards.

That would be inexcusable, and entirely self-inflicted by Washington.  The power to solve this is in our hands.  All that’s needed is a simple vote that Democrats and Republicans have taken for decades, including all of the leaders in Congress today.  It was done 18 times under President Reagan.  7 times under George W. Bush.  And it must be done again now.  It’s not a vote that allows Congress to spend more money.  Raising the debt ceiling simply gives our country the ability to pay the bills Congress has already racked up.  It gives the United States of America the ability to keep its word.  And it will let businesses and our economy breathe a sigh of relief.

On Monday night, I asked you to make your voice heard in this debate.  And the response was overwhelming.  One of the emails we received was from a woman named Kelly Smith, who wanted to send this message to Washington:

“I keep my home clean, work hard at a full time job, give my parents any monies I can so they can afford their medications, I pay my bills and by all appearances I am a responsible person.  All I’m asking is that you be responsible.  I have my house in order and all I’m asking is that you get yours the same way.”

Here in Washington, we need to get our house in order.  And I have to say, Democrats in Congress and some Senate Republicans have been listening and have shown themselves willing to make compromises to solve this crisis.  Now all of us – including Republicans in the House of Representatives – need to demonstrate the same kind of responsibility that the American people show every day.  The time for putting party first is over.  The time for compromise on behalf of the American people is now.  Thank you.

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