Sunday, July 31, 2011

Senators May Yet Forge a Last-Minute Debt-Limit Agreement

The Washington Times has an article about a situation in which neither house of Congress or the President inspire public confidence.

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.

“We’re really, really close,” Mr. McConnell told reporters in the early afternoon.

The agreement does not have any tax increases because Republicans said they could not accept them, but the total debt increase would last into 2013, which Democrats said was critical to avoid a repeat of this fight before the 2012 elections.

On Sunday afternoon, a test vote on an earlier Democratic proposal to raise the debt limit by $2.4 trillion failed to muster the 60 votes needed to advance....

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