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Posted at 10:14 AM ET, 07/07/2011

What to watch for on the debt limit today


(Charles Dharapak - AP)
All eyes will be on the White House this morning when President Obama and Vice President Biden meet with top congressional leaders as they work toward a deal to raise the country’s debt limit.

But there’s a flurry of debt-limit-related activity on Capitol Hill today, too, with members of both parties holding events to stake out their positions in the battle over the federal borrowing limit.

The first of those comes when House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and other leaders address reporters following a closed-door meeting with all House Republicans. Also, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), who will be attending today’s White House talks with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), is speaking on the debt limit in remarks on the House floor; the Congressional Progressive Caucus is also slated to hold its own event on the debt limit.

Watch to see whether House Republicans signal any further wiggle room on closing tax loopholes, as Cantor did yesterday. On the Democratic side, watch for whether Hoyer or progressive Democrats make any reference to reports that the White House is considering sweeping changes to Social Security as part of a debt-limit deal. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner last night met with Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee, according to a senior Democratic aide, although it’s unclear whether any specific Social Security changes were discussed.

The White House meeting is set for 11 a.m. Then at noon, Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders hold an event examining the risks of default on the U.S. economy and job creation. Expect debate on the constitutional argument to come up — and keep an eye on this event for word of how House Democrats viewed today’s White House huddle.

Then, it’s time for conservative Republicans to make their case on the debt ceiling. Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), two founding members of the Senate Tea Party Caucus, hold an event on the debt limit at 2:15 p.m. The two are among the dozen Senate Republicans who have signed a “cut, cap and balance” pledge on the debt ceiling that calls for significant spending cuts as well as the passage of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

Pelosi holds her weekly briefing at 2:30 p.m., and she and Boehner will hold a joint event at 4:15 p.m. along with the Dalai Lama. (No word yet on whether he supports a debt-ceiling increase or not.)

In addition to all the events today, there will also be some (symbolic) debt-limit action on the Senate floor; the chamber is expected to vote this morning on a “sense of the Senate” resolution calling for “shared sacrifice” from the wealthy on the debt ceiling.

Also worth keeping in mind: The White House-set deadline for arriving at a debt-limit deal is two weeks away, and the parties’ dueling events on the issue are likely only to step up as that deadline nears. But as in the debate on the government shutdown in April, any final deal will of course be hammered out not at news conferences, but behind closed doors.

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By  |  10:14 AM ET, 07/07/2011

 
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