Monday, May 20, 2013
Hint of Debt Deal As Negotiations Go Late Night
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.
(CBS/AP) WASHINGTON - 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 saying progress had been made, offered the strongest indication yet that a default might be averted.
The White House and Republicans have apparently struck an agreement for a framework deal on raising the debt ceiling by about $2.8 trillion, Bloomberg News reports.
Bloomberg cites a person familiar with the talks saying that the tentative deal includes spending cuts of $1 trillion and it would create a special committee to recommend additional savings of up to $1.8 trillion. The new panel must act before the Thanksgiving congressional recess or government programs including Defense and Medicare would face automatic, across-the-board cuts.
Also included in a tentative agreement to raise the debt ceiling is a requirement that Congress vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment in the near future, although there is no guarantee it will pass.
Reid said earlier that at the request of White House officials, he was postponing a test vote set for shortly after midnight on his own legislation to raise the debt limit while cutting spending. The vote is now scheduled to take place Sunday at 1 p.m. EST.
Earlier in the day, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said at a joint news conference with House Speaker John Boehner that he was confident a deal could be reached: "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 interests of the American people."
McConnell and Democratic Senator Charles Schumer will appear on CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday morning.
Without legislation in place by next Tuesday, administration officials say the Treasury will run out of funds to pay all the nation's bills. They say a subsequent default could prove catastrophic for the U.S. economy and send shockwaves around the world.
The president is seeking legislation to raise the government's $14.3 trillion debt limit by about $2.4 trillion, enough to tide the Treasury over until after the 2012 elections. Over many weeks, he has agreed to Republican demands that deficits be cut -- without a requirement for tax increases -- in exchange for additional U.S. borrowing authority.
But Obama has threatened to veto any legislation that would require a second vote in Congress for any additional borrowing authority to take effect, saying that would invite a recurrence of the current crisis in the heat of next year's election campaigns.