Late Stab at Deal to Hike Debt Ceiling

From The Associated Press:



First word of an effort to reach a compromise came at mid-afternoon from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner–Obama’s principal Republican antagonist in a contentious new era of divided government. Both GOP leaders said they were in touch with the White House and hopeful of a deal.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid heatedly denied their claims of progress on the Senate floor a short while later, but several hours later said events had changed.

“There are many elements to be finalized…there is still a distance to go,” he said in dramatic late-night remarks. “I’m glad to see this move toward cooperation and compromise,” he added.

He said he was optimistic any agreement would not include a short-term extension of the nation’s debt limit–a point on which Obama has insisted.

Officials familiar with the discussions said that while the first-step increase in borrowing authority and cuts in spending would happen at once, the next step would be somewhat more complicated.

The additional increase in borrowing authority, about $1.4 trillion, would be linked to creation of a special committee of lawmakers charged with recommending deficit cuts of a slightly larger size. If the panel failed to act, or its proposals were rejected in Congress, automatic spending cuts would take effect to slice spending by slightly more than $1.4 trillion, possibly affecting Medicare and the Pentagon.

The terms under discussion appeared to satisfy key demands made by both sides.

Obama would prevail on insisting that after the legislation is passed, Congress would not be required to vote for debt limit increases to take place. Republicans would win spending cuts slightly larger than any debt limit increase and avoid any higher taxes.

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