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Friday
Jul292011

Boehner Tweaks Debt Bill to Include Balanced Budget Amendment

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After House Republicans failed to line up a majority to pass the Boehner debt plan Thursday night, the GOP leadership decided Friday to once again tweak the bill, and once again Republicans have recaptured confidence that they will pass a bill to raise the debt ceiling and send it to the Senate.

House Speaker John Boehner urged his colleagues to pass the measure and put the onus to get a deal done back on the Democrat-controlled Senate, according to a senior GOP leadership aide.

“If we pass this today, we will have sent not one, but two bills to the Senate that would end this crisis,” Boehner, R-Ohio, reportedly told the conference. “All that will stand between the American people and a resolution to this crisis will be the Senate, which has passed nothing.”

Sources inside the room say that Boehner again pleaded for party unity and said the House would vote Friday on a debt ceiling bill -- one way or another.

While the Republicans were strategizing, President Obama went to the airwaves and called on the GOP to stop wasting time and compromise with Democrats, saying the stalled GOP House bill “has no chance of becoming law.”

“The House of Representatives is still trying to pass a bill that a majority of Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have already said they won't vote for,” Obama said. “It's a plan that would force us to relive this crisis in just a few short months, holding our economy captive to Washington politics once again.  In other words, it does not solve the problem, and it has no chance of becoming law.”

As the GOP meeting began to wrap and lawmakers began to trickle out, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama was asked about the president’s comments. Brooks, a tea party-supported freshman, dismissed the president’s comments and broke the news that the leadership had tweaked the bill to include a Balanced Budget Amendment element -- likely boosting the Whip count over the top.

Boehner’s plan, also known as the Budget Control Act of 2011, was revised only to ensure that a balanced budget amendment is passed by both Houses of Congress before the second installment of debt limit increase authority is granted to the president.

All the numbers confirmed by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office stand. The measure would find $917 billion in savings over 10 years, while the debt limit will be increased by $900 billion. The second stage of the plan would still create a select joint committee on deficit reduction before the debt limit is increased again.

As Boehner left the meeting he announced "we have a deal" and some noted that he was smiling. The speaker is expected to be on the House floor Friday afternoon to discuss the changes to the bill prior to a vote.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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