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Saturday
Jul302011

Debt Debate Drama: Senate Slaps Down House Bill, Clock Ticks on Compromise

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- House Republicans Friday evening narrowly passed a proposal to raise the debt ceiling by $900 billion, cut spending by about that much and require another debt ceiling vote in about six months -- only to have Democrats in the Senate scuttle it.

As expected, the Senate voted down -- tabled -- the House Republican bill written by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. The vote was 59-41.

Passage of Boehner’s bill in the House could, however, strengthen the Republicans’ position, showing their unity as they enter negotiations with the Senate on what kind of compromise can ultimately pass both chambers of Congress and raise the debt ceiling before Aug. 2, when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said the government will start to default on its debt.

That drama will play out over the weekend and into next week as senators begin consideration of their own bill backed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., which would raise the debt ceiling through the coming general election and into 2013. The modified Reid proposal, scored again by the Congressional Budget Office this evening, shows $2.4 trillion deficit reduction over the next 10 years, matching a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt limit.

Democrats have noted their lack of input on the Boehner plan and say Republicans have refused to negotiate with them in recent days on a deficit reduction deal.

A spokesman for Speaker Boehner reacted to the Senate's vote in a written statement.

“For the second time, the House has passed a reasonable, common-sense plan to raise the debt limit and cut spending," Boehner press secretary Michael Steel said, "and, for the second time, Sen. Reid has tabled it.  The responsibility to end this crisis is now entirely in the hands of Sen. Reid and President Obama.”

So it appeared the game of "Debt Default Chicken" continued.  The House, following the Senate, is preparing a statement vote of its own. Each side's vote is intended to prove to the other that their debt-ceiling bills can’t pass.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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