Debt-ceiling compromise taking shape: What's in it?
The details of an emerging debt-ceiling compromise are unconfirmed and could change, but they appear currently to involve parts of Sen. Mitch McConnell's 'last choice' option, as well as a trigger to ensure promised spending cuts take place.
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The breakthrough followed 48 hours of high political drama, as the Senate voted to table – in other words, refuse to consider – the latest House bill to resolve the crisis just minutes after it passed the House. House Republican leaders responded by defeating an earlier version Senator Reid's bill even before it was voted on in the Senate.Skip to next paragraph
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"It's all political theater, both what they did in the House and what we're doing on the floor of the Senate," said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) of Georgia on Saturday. "But a lot is going on behind the scenes that is about substance and not just promises."
One of the sticking points during the months of trying to resolve the looming debt crisis has been GOP lawmakers' fears that they will accept a deal that promises spending cuts that subsequent Congresses fail to deliver – the fate of the Reagan tax hikes in 1982 and the Bush tax hikes in 1990.
Even if the White House and congressional leaders agree on a deal, the task of selling it to highly engaged rank-and-file members is a formidable one, on both sides of the aisle. A deal capable of mustering a bipartisan, 60-vote majority in the Democrat-controlled Senate must also clear a deeply divided GOP-controlled House.
Speaker Boehner has famously struggled to come up with a deal that will win even a majority within his own caucus. But he also appears unwilling to abandon even his most hardline conservatives. He began a divisive caucus meeting last week by telling members: "I just want you to know I love each and every one of you.... We've had deep divisions in our caucus, but we're all in this together," according to members at the closed meeting.
"Somewhere in between these two bills [Reid and Boehner], we're going to find a way," says Rep. Dave Camp (R) of Michigan.
Feelings are also running high on the Democratic side. Members fear that the emerging plan will not stand strong enough on core Democratic principles, such as requiring shared sacrifice from the richest Americans.
House Democratic leader "Nancy Pelosi says that the Boehner plan is the depths of hell and the Reid plan is purgatory,” says Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D) of New York. “I think that the Reid plan is the outer depths of hell, but still hell. But I voted for it to strengthen Reid’s hand so it doesn’t get worse, but it doesn’t mean I’ll vote for it in the end.”