Entries in Democrats (287)


Democrats List Their Top House Candidates

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Democrats had a rough time in the 2010 elections for the House of Representatives, and this year they have almost nowhere to go but up.

On Wednesday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) unveiled its list of “Red to Blue” candidates -- its top tier of House challengers who, it believes, are poised to win mostly Republican districts in November, bringing Democrats back toward relevance in the House of Representatives after a two-year stint of drastic minority.

Here they are:

-- Julia Brownley, California’s open 26th District.
-- Alan Lowenthal, California’s new 47th District.
-- Scott Peters, challenging GOP Rep. Brian Bilbray in California’s 52nd District.
-- Bill Enyart, vying to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Jerry Costello in Illinois’s 12th District.
-- David Gill, Illinois’s open 13th District.
-- Mike Obermueller, challenging GOP Rep. John Kilne in Minnesota’s Second District.
-- Hayden Rogers, vying to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler in North Carolina’s 11th District.
-- Michelle Lujan Grisham, vying to replace Democratic Rep. Martin Heinrich in New Mexico’s First District. Heinrich is running for Senate.
-- Former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, challenging GOP Rep. Frank Guinta in New Hampshire’s First District.
-- Mark Murphy, challenging GOP Rep. Michael Grimm in New York’s 11th District.
-- Sean Patrick Maloney, challenging Rep. Nan Hayworth in New York’s 18th District.
-- Pete Gallego, challenging GOP Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco in Texas’s 23rd District.
-- Suzan DelBene, vying for Washington’s open First District.

“These top-tier Democratic candidates are focused on solving problems, creating jobs, strengthening the middle class and protecting seniors.  Their Republican opponents are forced to defend their relentless protections of millionaires over Medicare and the middle class,” DCCC Chairman Steve Israel said on releasing the list.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


House Passes GOP's Full Tax-Cut Extension

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The House voted Wednesday to approve the one-year extension of the current tax code, 256-171. This includes an extension of the tax cuts for the country’s wealthiest earners. Nineteen Democrats peeled off to support the GOP legislation. One Republican along with 170 Democrats voted in opposition.
As for the Democratic plan -- which would extend the current tax rates only for families making under 250,000 -- it didn’t fare as well, suffering a stinging defeat with a 170-257 vote.
The GOP extension is unlikely to move any further, with Senate Democrats and President Obama opposed to the measure.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


With Biden Presiding, Senate Passes Democrats’ Tax Cut Plan

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden made the rare move to come to Capitol Hill Wednesday afternoon and fill his seat as “president of the Senate,” presiding over the Senate as they cast two votes on dueling tax cut plans.

In the end the vice president did not need to cast a tie-breaking vote, and the Democratic tax cut plan passed by a vote of 51-48.

“The bill is passed,” Biden announced from the chair.

Sen. Lieberman, I-Conn., and Sen. Webb, D-Va., voted against the Democrats' plan, which would extend the Bush tax rates for families making under $250,000 for one year and let rates for families earning about $250,000 expire. No Republicans voted with the Democrats.

“This is a big victory for the American people today,” Biden said at the Ohio Clock in the Capitol following the vote.

Republicans have long fought against this plan because they consider this a tax hike on small businesses, as people and small businesses making over $250,000 who would see their tax cuts expire.  In a still-recovering economy, they say this would stunt hiring even more.

With Biden looking on, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., reminded the Senate that he and the vice president once negotiated in 2010 a two-year full extension of the Bush tax cuts because the economy wasn’t doing well at the time.

“Today my colleagues, the economy is growing slower than it was in December of 2010,” McConnell said, calling the Democratic plan a “uniquely bad idea,” as more than 50 percent of small business would see an increase in their taxes with the end of the extension.

But don’t hold your breath for the Senate-passed legislation to become law. Without support from across the aisle, this plan has no chance of being brought up or passing in the Republican-led House of Representatives.  Republicans will also argue that the Democrats’ bill will never become law because they claim it does not pass “constitutional muster’” because all revenue bills must originate in the House.

But Democrats, who called for the House to take up the bill, will use this in an election year to push their message, believing they now have the upper hand, and immediately cast this as a “watershed moment.”

“For the first time we got a majority vote in the Senate to help the middle class with tax breaks without having to tie them with tax breaks to the wealthiest among us. That hasn’t passed in the Senate for a very long time,” Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, said.  "The water will now flow in our direction, not theirs.”

Immediately before voting through the Democratic plan, the Senate voted down the Republicans’ tax cut plan by a vote of 45-54. Republicans Scott Brown, R-Mass., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, voted against the Republicans’ tax plan. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., was the lone Democrat to cross the aisle and voted with the Republicans.

The Republican plan would extend all tax rates for another year.

“Our economy needs relief,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said of the Republicans’ plan he sponsored. “Businesses and families need certainty and all we are proposing is extending current tax law for one more year so that we can dedicate that year and do tax reform. By contrast, the Democratic bill offers nothing but more uncertainty and tax increases on job creators.”

Democrats classify this as giving a tax break to “millionaires and billionaires,” who don’t need and wouldn’t spend the money to help boost the economy.

The significance of Wednesday’s vote most likely will end up being symbolic and contribute to Democratic messaging in an election year, revealed slightly by Schumer, the Senate’s person in charge of messaging, after the vote.

“This will be a positive day for November,” Schumer said, “and more importantly a positive day for the middle class and America. The House is going to have some serious explaining to do for the middle class of America.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Feinstein's Blaming White House for National Security Leaks Emerges as Campaign Issue

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- In remarks at the World Affairs Council, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, expressed concern Monday about leaks of national security information coming, she's concluded, from the Obama administration, saying, “The White House has to understand that some of this is coming from its ranks. I don’t know specifically where, but I think they have to begin to understand that and do something about it.”

Referring to David Sanger’s book Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power, Feinstein said, “There’s one book they can read and they’ll see it very clearly. And I think that should be the case.”

Feinstein said that, “what the president actually knows about this is difficult because with respect to intelligence he is in a bubble. He has his daily brief, called the PDB, the President’s Daily Brief, early every morning. And so he gets briefing from intelligence I don’t believe for a moment that he goes out and talks about it, I don’t believe the briefers go out and talk about it, but who knows who else? And I think that the importance of this has to be really set by the president himself. And hopefully he will do it, and I think he’ll most likely read the book and see it himself.”

Asked for more detail about the senator’s comments, a Feinstein aide says that when she said the leaks were “coming from its ranks,” the senator was referring to the Obama administration -- the federal government -- in general, not specifically individuals in the White House. The aide also claimed that the senator does not know who the leakers were; she was assuming.

Critics have accused the Obama administration of leaking information on such secret operations for political gain.

Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney on Tuesday made much of her remarks -- and the leak issue in general -- Tuesday in his speech to the VFW.

“After secret operational details of the bin Laden raid were given to reporters, Secretary Gates walked into the West Wing and told the Obama team to ‘shut up,’” Romney said, also referring to a passage in Sanger’s book. “And he added a colorful…word for emphasis.”

Said Romney Tuesday, “Lives of American servicemen and women are at stake. But astonishingly, the administration failed to change its ways. More top-secret operations were leaked, even some involving covert action going on in Iran. This isn’t a partisan issue; it’s a national security crisis. And yesterday, Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, quote, ‘I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks.’ End of quote.”

Gov. Romney said, “This conduct is contemptible. It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field. And it demands a full and prompt investigation by a special counsel, with explanation and consequence.”

Feinstein Tuesday issued a statement saying she was “disappointed by the statements made by Mr. Romney today regarding a question I was asked yesterday at the World Affairs Council. I was asked whether the White House might be responsible for recent national security leaks. I stated that I did not believe the president leaked classified information. I shouldn’t have speculated beyond that, because the fact of the matter is I don’t know the source of the leaks.”

Feinstein went on, saying, “I’m on record as being disturbed by these leaks, and I regret my remarks are being used to impugn President Obama or his commitment to protecting national security secrets. I know for a fact the president is extremely troubled by these leaks. His administration has moved aggressively to appoint two independent U.S. attorneys. There is an investigation under way, and it is moving forward quickly. I know we are in a campaign season, but I hope the investigation proceeds without political accusation or interference from anyone.”

Responded the Romney campaign’s Ryan Williams: “It looks like President Obama has given Dianne Feinstein the 'Cory Booker treatment,'" referring to the Newark New Jersey mayor who made critical statements of the president only to come under fire from Obama staffers and then apparently reverse his position. "Yesterday she was speaking candidly about the leaks originating from this White House," Williams said, "today, she was forced to walk it back. As Governor Romney said today, we need a leader who will take responsibility and immediately halt these security breaches before more American lives are put in danger.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Republicans Endorse Democrats in Senate Races

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- With majority control of the Senate within reach for Republicans this November, one might presume that conservative party elders are doing everything within their power to elect GOP senators this fall. You’d be wrong.

Over the past two days, two veteran GOP lawmakers have gone out of their way to throw their support behind Democrats hoping to win a six-year term in the upper chamber.

Rep. Don Young, Alaska’s at-large representative who has served 20 terms in the House, taped a campaign video with Rep. Mazie Hirono, a three-term Democrat running for Hawaii’s open seat in the Senate.

“While Mazie and I don’t see eye to eye on everything, we’ve done something too many people in Washington refuse to cross the aisle and do,” Young says in a video endorsing Hirono. “We’ve worked together.”

“Here’s what’s important, Hawaii,” Young continues. “If you’re looking for a United States senator who doesn’t just talk about bipartisanship but actually knows how to work with both Republicans and Democrats to get things done, Mazie Hirono will be that senator.”

“Thank you, Don,” Hirono replies. “I really appreciate that.”

“I’m certainly humbled a Republican friend like Don has taken this extra step of endorsing my candidacy for U.S. Senate, but I am even more proud of the work he and I have done together as Republican and Democrat to protect vital Native-Hawaiian and Native-Alaskan education programs,” Hirono wrote in a statement.

“Whatever his generous endorsement may mean for my Senate campaign, what matters most to me is that our bipartisan relationship helps solve problems for the people of Hawaii. Ours is an example of friendly cooperation and meaningful collaboration that Washington must follow, especially in challenging times like these.”

Currently there are 47 Republicans in the Senate, and 53 Democrats. But with twice as many Senate Democratic incumbents as Republicans defending their seats this fall, and the economy still tanking, the majority is up for grabs.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is also under fire for donating $250 to the reelection campaign of Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia.

“He votes thinking about the long-term interests of the country,” Coburn told The Hill newspaper. “We don’t agree on everything but he’s a good guy.”

Manchin, who won a special election in 2010 to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd, is gearing up for a rematch against businessman John Raese.

Hirono is running against former Democratic Rep. Ed Case in the state’s Aug. 11 primary. The winner will advance to take on Hawaii’s former GOP governor Linda Lingle in the race to replace Sen. Daniel Akaka, who is retiring from office at the end of his term.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


House Gears Up to Repeal Obamacare -- Again

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Less than two weeks after the Supreme Court upheld the president’s health care reform law, the House of Representatives is set to vote to repeal the legislation again in what Democrats have decried as a political show vote while also embracing it as another opportunity to explain the perks of the law to voters.

Lawmakers will begin debating the GOP’s proposal to repeal the law on Tuesday, with a final vote expected Wednesday afternoon.

To date, the House has voted 30 times to defund, dismantle and repeal the Affordable Care Act.  In one of the first acts of the new Republican-controlled House of Representatives 18 months ago, the House first voted to repeal the health care law on Jan. 19, 2011, passing the measure 245-189.  At the time, just three House Democrats -- Reps. Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, and Mike Ross of Arkansas -- joined the House GOP in supporting repeal.  A month later, repeal failed in the Democrat-controlled Senate 47-51.

Despite an inadequate sum of votes in the Senate to repeal it, House Speaker John Boehner said voting for repeal in the aftermath of the court’s decision will only act to strengthen his party’s resolve.

Now, rank and file Republicans are lining up behind the speaker to show some backbone.

“I don’t think it’s symbolic,” Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., told ABC News Monday evening.  “Now that we know that the truth is out there that this is a tax, we need to be able to let the American people know where we stand.”

Democrats are using the opportunity to renew support for the law, dismissing the GOP’s latest repeal attempt as a “political charade” and “campaign fodder.”

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., urged Democrats to stay on offense and trumpet the benefits of the law that are already being realized by voters, unlike the defensive posture congressional Democrats took in the 2010 midterm election.

“We’re not going to be defensive or apologetic,” Grijalva, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, declared.  “Things need to be improved in the law -- we know that -- but repeal of it is something that we should all be very aggressive about not only voting against but make it part of the campaign dialogue or debate that goes on for the next four months.  I think it’s going to help us.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who played a chief role in passing the bill, said the GOP’s attempt to repeal the law is not just about politics, but also what would be taken away from Americans already enjoying assistance mandated by law.

“It’s more than just whether or not they will do it and its politics.  It is about the philosophy that is behind it and who they are willing to hurt and whose side they’re on.  That’s what this vote is about,” DeLauro, D-Conn., said.  “It’s making health care affordable for those who have it and for those who do not have it.  That is what Republicans do not want to have happen.”

But no matter the miniscule odds of successfully repealing the law with the current dynamic of a divided Congress, Republicans remain steadfast in their quest to fulfill a campaign promise that helped propel them into the majority two years ago.

“If you’ve got orders to take a hill, you’re going to keep going until you take the hill,” West, R-Fla., explained.  “The American people don’t want this Patient Protection Affordable Care Act.  It’s heinous, it’s onerous.  They want it gone so we as their representatives are going to continue to do what they sent us up here to do which is every way that we possibly can make sure that this bad policy, this bad law is irradiated from our rolls.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


GOP Unwilling to Let Obama ‘Move Forward’ After Health Care Ruling

Joe Raedle/Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Though the Supreme Court ruling on the Obama administration’s signature health care reform law dominated the news cycle on Thursday, there were already signs that the landmark decision may be merely a footnote to this November’s presidential election.

The court’s decision to uphold the most controversial aspect of the law -- the individual mandate -- had Democrats hailing the ruling as a “win” and Republicans denouncing it in the sharpest possible terms.

Even before the court handed down its decision, presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign was ready to declare victory.

While Romney expressed his displeasure with the ruling on Thursday, he also signaled how he would try to capitalize on it between now and November.

“What the court did not do in its last day in session,” Romney said. “I will do on the first day as President of the United States. And that is, I will act to repeal Obamacare.”

The ruling leaves Romney with one of his favorite stump speech punching bags -- one that he can keep on jabbing over the next five months.

President Obama, on the other hand, said in brief remarks at the White House that it was time to “move forward.”

“I know there will be a lot of discussion today about the politics of all this, about who won and who lost.  That’s how these things tend to be viewed here in Washington,” Obama said. “But that discussion completely misses the point. Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it.”

But with a recent Gallup poll showing that only six percent of Americans said healthcare was the most important problem facing the country compared to a combined 56 percent who said that either the economy, in general, or unemployment was their biggest concern, it was not surprising that the president pivoted away from health care as he closed his remarks.

“Now is the time to keep our focus on the most urgent challenge of our time,” Obama said, “putting people back to work, paying down our debt, and building an economy where people can have confidence that if they work hard, they can get ahead.”

And while Democrats celebrated on Thursday, Republicans argued that they had reason to rejoice too.

“This decision will drive Republican voter intensity sky-high,” said Steven Law, president and CEO of the GOP super PAC American Crossroads.

He added, “The last time Obamacare was litigated in a general election, Republicans picked up an historic number of seats in the U.S. House and made big gains in the U.S. Senate.”

And former Alaksa Gov. Sarah Palin observed, “Thank you, SCOTUS. This Obamacare ruling fires up the troops as America’s eyes are opened!”

It is evidently a sentiment shared by the Romney campaign. All day long campaign aides in Boston were live-tweeting the results of their day-long fundraising drive that raked in more than $2 million in a matter of hours on Thursday.

“Just crossed $2 million in donations & 20,000+ donors for #FullRepeal of Obamacare,” Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul noted.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fleeing Obama? Dems Skipping Out, Adding to Convention Woes

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Four years ago, President Obama's coronation in Denver was a big, happy party.

More than 84,000 Democrats attended Obama's nomination speech at Invesco Field, waiting for hours in a long, snaking line to see the Illinois senator's address among Greek-looking columns, and no one in attendance seemed to heed the conservative mockery they invited.

Denver's streets were filled with political revelers, cabbing from party to party. Somewhere, Kanye West was around.

In 2012, the mood will undoubtedly be festive, but the convention has been beset by a string of bad news in its planning stages.

Over the past few days, a handful of Democratic candidates and elected officials have announced, through their campaigns, that they will not attend the 2012 convention in Charlotte, to be held Sept. 3-6.

Most notable among them is Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who championed Obama as one of his primary endorsers and top surrogates in 2008. "You can't underestimate the importance of Claire McCaskill to this campaign," senior Obama campaign adviser Anita Dunn said in June 2008.

The growing list of Democratic truants includes Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va; West Virginia Gov. Early Ray Tomblin; Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah; Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.., ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield reported on Tuesday.

In addition to Tester, two more Democratic senate candidates in competitive races, Arizona's Richard Carmona and North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp, will not attend the convention, their campaigns confirmed to ABC News. The convention falls in the first week of Carmona's general-election campaign; he faces no opposition in the state's Aug. 28 primary, though he'll learn who his Republican opponent will be.

Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., won't attend the convention either, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday.

These non-attendees have said they will campaign in their states and districts while the convention is happening, and they've downplayed any notion that their decisions were motivated by a reluctance to embrace the Democratic Party and its leader, Barack Obama. Heitkamp spokesman Liam Forsythe said the candidate had planned not to attend the convention "for some time." McCaskill tweeted that news of her non-attendance amounted to a "whole lot of nothing" and that she supposes Obama agrees with her decision. Democratic convention planners declined to comment on the handful of planned absences.

But some of these Democrats hail from states where Obama isn't popular, and where he's not expected to win in November. In West Virginia, federal inmate Keith Judd took a sizable portion of the vote against Obama in the state's Democratic presidential primary. After voting narrowly for John McCain in 2008, Missouri rates solidly as Romney country.

In January, organizers shortened the convention from four days to three "to make room for organizing day and celebrating #DNC2012 host community," the host committee announced via Twitter.

Organizers this week denied a Bloomberg report that they have fallen $27 million short of their fundraising goal. "We are right on track with the fundraising we are doing," convention chief executive Stephen Kerrigan told National Journal by telephone on Tuesday.

Perhaps another issue for the Democratic convention is its location, a state slipping away from the embattled president.

Democrats announced their finalist cities of Charlotte, Minneapolis, Cleveland and St. Louis in June 2010. After the Metrodome roof collapsed amid a snowstorm in Minneapolis, organizers were hemmed in. Charlotte looked like a politically aggressive choice -- a signal that Democrats would fight to defend their Southern beachhead in 2012 -- but now, North Carolina rates only barely as a swing state. Gallup found Obama's North Carolina approval was 43.7 percent in 2011, according to data released in January, a 3.2-percent decline from 2010. Obama's endorsement of gay marriage, after North Carolina passed an amendment banning it this year, seemed to put him at odds with voters there.

While Republicans could see a minor boost in Florida after Mitt Romney's nomination in Tampa in August, Obama may not benefit from a similar swing-state bump.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


List of Democrats Skipping the Party’s National Convention Continues to Grow

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- There may be some extra hotel space in Charlotte, N. C. come the beginning of September, as several Democrat officials have announced that they will not be attending the Democratic National Convention this year, and President Obama's low approval ratings in their respective states are likely to blame.

Earlier Tuesday, Talking Points Memo reported that Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill will not be attending the convention, becoming the third Democratic senator, and eighth Democratic member of Congress, to opt out of the event.

Late Tuesday she tweeted, "Whole lot of nothing over me campaigning w/Mo folks instead of going to convention w/party honchos. Bet POTUS agrees with my decision.”

Several of the elected officials who have decided to forgo the convention hail from places where Obama is unpopular; West Virginia’s Democratic House Rep. Nick Rahall, Sen. Joe Manchin and its governor, Earl Ray Tomblin, have all announced they’re not going. Obama’s low popularity in the state is perhaps best exemplified by the strong performance of prison inmate Keith Russell Judd in the state’s Democratic presidential primary. Other elected Democrats not going include Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah and Sen. Jon Tester of Montana.

McCaskill is in the same boat as her colleagues from West Virginia, Utah and Montana, in the sense that she hails from a state where Obama is unpopular -- a Gallup poll from January, 2012 put his approval rating in the state at just 39 percent -- and she faces a tough re-election campaign this cycle.

However, her decision to stay away is significant because she was an early endorser of Obama in 2008, and a big surrogate for his campaign. Obama narrowly lost Missouri in 2008 -- but by a margin of less than one percentage point -- making it one of the closest states in the general election. "You can’t underestimate the importance of Claire McCaskill to this campaign,” senior Obama campaign adviser Anita Dunn said at the time. This cycle, ABC News rates the state as solidly Republican.

Democrats are not alone, Republican elected officials have opted not to attend this year’s GOP convention in Tampa Bay, Fla. as well. Recently, Montana Rep. and GOP Senate nominee Denny Rehberg announced he would not be attending. Rehberg has been distancing himself to some degree from the Republican Congress, he recently ran an ad in which he criticized Paul Ryan’s budget proposal.

Party leaders skipping their party’s conventions is not an entirely new phenomenon: Claire McCaskill has actually skipped her party’s convention before, in 2004. In 2008 several GOP senators facing re-election including Susan Collins of Maine skipped out on the festivities in Minnesota.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Student Loan Deal Taking Shape on Capitol Hill

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Congress is starting to see some light at the end of the student loan impasse tunnel.

Both the Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate Tuesday announced that a deal is almost complete to avoid student loan rates from doubling on July 1. The deal, which both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced Friday, is contingent on the House Republican leadership getting their members on board.

“We are moving toward completion this week of both the extension of the student loan rates at the current level for another year,” McConnell said Tuesday after his party’s weekly lunch. “Senator Reid and I have an understanding that I think would be acceptable to the House.”

Reid said he too believes they’ve come together and are at a “good place” with a deal but that the final details, which neither side was willing to divulge yet, would have to come together by Wednesday.

“We basically have the student loan issue worked out,” Reid said. “The next question is, what do we put it on to make sure we can complete it? There are a number of suspects we have, but right now we don’t have that worked out yet. ”

The student loan deal may be coupled legislatively with the highway bill extension, which negotiators intimated might be the more efficient way to pass the deal, avoiding numerous votes and passing both with one fell swoop.

“We’re very close to having everything done,” Reid added. “But until we get everything done, nothing’s done. There’s been a lot of progress made. I appreciate the House Republicans working so well, and I know we can pass a bill.  But, as I told my caucus, everyone has to be very, very patient now, and wait and see how the process works out. ”

Both Republicans and Democrats have long believed the subsidized Stafford loan rates should not be doubled from the current 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent and agreed the current rates should be extended for at least another year. But getting both sides to agree on how to pay for the bill was the source of disagreement.

The nuts and bolts of the deal are still being worked out, both sides said, so they would not yet reveal the details of the compromise.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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