(WASHINGTON) -- With debt negotiations locked in what President Obama last night referred to as a “stalemate,” the president is looking to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for help.
Specifically, the president hopes McConnell (R-Kentucky) will be able to persuade House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to support legislation that will raise the debt ceiling and reduce the deficit -- and that can pass the House and Senate and be signed by the president.
“The key is McConnell,” a senior White House official tells ABC News.
Whether that would mean McConnell is able to “move” Boehner to support the bill being offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., or a version thereof after Boehner’s legislation fails to pass in the Senate, as many assume may happen, will be dictated by circumstances, the official said.
But Senate GOP sources say that the White House should likely look elsewhere.
McConnell worked with the Speaker on the Boehner bill and strongly supports it. The GOP leader believes that at the end of the day, the choice will be between Boehner’s legislation and possible default, and the president will be forced to sign Boehner’s legislation, which would force $1.8 trillion in additional cuts in 2012.
Reid’s plan, Republicans say, not only couldn’t pass the House, it can’t sustain a filibuster in the Senate. Reid’s bill cuts about $1.2 trillion in spending, as does Boehner, but Reid’s bill extends the debt ceiling through 2013 while Boehner’s bill extends it only through 2012. Boehner claims Reid's bill is filled with "gimicks" like counting as "cuts" already-expected savings for -- like savings from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which are winding down.
“The only hiccup right now is whether the debt ceiling increase gets us through his (the president’s) election,” the GOP aide said. “Not whether it helps the economy.”
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