U. S. Leaders Reach Deal to Raise Debt Ceiling

In National News, Politics on August 1, 2011 at 6:47 pm


President Obama spoke about a debt deal on Sunday. (Philip Scott Andrews/The New York Times)
Two days before the deadline for a possible U.S. government default, President Barack Obama and congressional leaders reached agreement Sunday on a legislative package that would extend the federal debt ceiling while cutting spending and guaranteeing further deficit-reduction steps.
The proposed $3 trillion deal, which still requires congressional approval, brought some immediate relief to global markets closely watching the situation play out and a nation filled with anger and frustration over partisan political wrangling that threatened further economic harm to an already struggling recovery.
However, there was no guarantee the plan will win enough support to pass both chambers of Congress.
Democratic and Republican leaders in both the House and Senate were briefing their caucuses about the agreement on Sunday night or Monday.
Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, all announced the deal within minutes of each other on Sunday night.
Sen. John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, earlier told CNN that cuts to military spending were a final sticking point.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, told reporters that she needs to see “the final product” in writing before she can decide if she supports it.
Pelosi said she would meet with the House Democratic caucus on Monday to discuss the matter.
“I don’t know all the particulars of what the final product is in writing and what the ramifications will be,” Pelosi said, noting the measure will have an impact for a decade or more. Asked about the outcome, she warned: “We all may not be able to support it or none of us may be able to support it.”
In the face of an August 2 deadline to get new authorization to borrow money or face a possible government default, congressional leaders and the White House were trying to complete the agreement that would extend the debt limit through 2012 — a presidential election year.
Earlier, Reid’s Republican counterpart in the Senate said the two parties were “very close” to reaching a deal that would bring $3 trillion in deficit reduction.
“We had a very good day yesterday,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, told CNN, adding that the two sides “made dramatic progress” in negotiations on a deal that would cut government spending and raise the federal debt ceiling.
Another Republican senator, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, later told reporters he expected a Monday vote on a compromise.
“It feels like they’re going to finish the deal today and then we’ll have the vote tomorrow,” Isakson said, adding he supports the plan under discussion.
Democrats in Congress and the Obama administration agreed that progress has been made.
“If there’s a word right here that would sum up the mood, it would be relief — relief that we won’t default,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said on CNN. “That’s not a certainty, but default is far less of a possibility now than it was even a day ago.”
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Alan Silverleib and Tom Cohen
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