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Debt crisis: Senate cancels holiday leave, but will it accomplish anything?

Heeding a call from President Obama, the Senate cancels its July 4th break to deal with the looming debt crisis. But Democratic leaders are not planning any meetings with Republicans.

By Staff writer / June 30, 2011

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), announces that the Senate is cancelling its July 4 break in an effort to address the nation's debt.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP



Heeding a call from the White House, the Senate canceled its July 4 break next week to stay in session and resolve the nation’s looming debt crisis, now set to hit on Aug. 2.

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“The time is too short to waste even a moment,” said Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada, making his announcement on the Senate floor Thursday.

“If we didn’t pay our bills, it would plunge the United States not into a recession, not into the so-called double-dip recession, but into a full-blown depression – and that’s without a doubt,” he added.

But so far Democratic leaders are planning no meetings with Republicans and the agenda on the Senate floor is expected to be the US role in Libya.

Until Thursday’s announcement, the House and Senate had planned to be in session at the same time only nine days between now and Aug. 2. House leaders say that they, too, are open to stay in session throughout the month of July.

“As always, the House will be here if and when needed, whether that’s the week of July 18 or the week of August 8,” says Laena Fallon, press secretary for House majority leader Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia.

“Today is a triumph of common sense in Washington, D.C., and that is no small feat,” said Kiki McLean, a founding leader for No Labels, a bipartisan advocacy group that has been pushing for Congress to suspend breaks until the debt crisis is resolved.

In a press conference on Wednesday, President Obama chided Congress, especially Republicans, for delays on his request to raise the nation’s $14.3 debt limit before the nation runs out of borrowing capacity.

Republicans are refusing to vote to increase the debt limit unless Congress and the president agree to trillions of dollars in spending cuts in the federal budget.

“If by the end of this week we have not seen substantial progress, then I think members of Congress need to understand we are going to, you know, start having to cancel things and stay here until we get it done,” Mr. Obama said.

On Aug. 2 the Treasury expects to reach the limit it is allowed to borrow in order to pay for government expenditures, including interest payments on existing debt. If the United States defaults on debt payments, its creditworthiness will plummet and interest rates will soar, further damaging an already vulnerable economy.

The Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington estimates that as of Aug. 3, the US would have $12 billion in new revenues to cover $32 billion in committed spending.


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