House members have just seven days to raise the debt ceiling before next Tuesday’s deadline, and the latest move came after budget analysts said the plan endorsed by Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) would only create $850 billion in government savings, rather than the sought-after $1.2 trillion.
Boehner had spent much of Tuesday furiously rallying support for his two-step plan to avert a potential default, even though Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid declared the proposal “dead on arrival” in his chamber and the White House issued a veto threat.
Senior lawmakers and aides continued negotiations aimed at finding a compromise between competing plans from Boehner and Reid (D-Nev.). But the two sides were still split over whether to hold multiple votes over the next eight months to lift the government’s debt limit or to have just one vote in the next few days that would extend the Treasury’s borrowing authority into 2013. Boehner’s plan calls for linking increases in the debt ceiling in two stages to about $3 trillion in spending cuts.
The White House expressed strong opposition to Boehner’s proposal Tuesday afternoon and threatened a veto, and Boehner also faced misgivings in his own party. About 10 House Republicans publicly declared opposition to his plan as too timid in its restraints on spending, and about nine more suggested they were leaning against the plan. Few, if any, Democrats were expected to support his plan, so the speaker could afford to lose only about two dozen of his 240 House Republicans.
Nevertheless, Reid made plans to kill off Boehner’s proposal in the event it landed in the Senate. “It’s dead on arrival if they get it out of the House,” Reid told reporters Tuesday after his own closed-door meeting of Senate Democrats.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), appearing immediately after Reid, denounced Reid’s plan to save $2.7 trillion in exchange for a commensurate elevation in the debt ceiling as “not a serious effort,” citing the Nevada Democrat’s accounting for $1 trillion in savings over the next decade through the drawdown of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Republicans said those were not real savings because they were already anticipated by the administration and lawmakers, even if government budget analysts officially score current budgets over 10-year periods.
This raised the stakes for the ongoing talks between Boehner and Reid as they negotiated a potentially decisive new path to a deal by an Aug. 2 deadline. The two men spoke Tuesday morning.
With a debt-limit deadline now a week away, the International Monetary Fund weighed in forcefully, warning of “serious spillovers” worldwide if the U.S. debt ceiling is not raised.