Sides Are Inching Closer to Debt Deal

Sides Are Inching Closer to Debt Deal

Concessions are being made and there is hope a deal will get done.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is going to try to move forward with his two-step plan to cut $3 trillion in spending and increase the debt ceiling. Phase one of the plan would impose a 10-year cap on discretionary spending to save $1.2 trillion over 10 years as well as raise the debt limit by $1 trillion, an amount expected to last until next year. A second vote would be necessary next year to further expand the government's borrowing authority.

Concerning a second vote, President Obama says there's no point in putting the economy at risk by kicking the can further down the road, but Boehner says his approach will prevail, though some House Republicans have already expressed opposition to the plan.

On the other side of Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., continues private talks with Senate Republicans in an effort to modify Boehner's package to make it more palatable to President Obama. Boehner was hoping for a Wednesday vote.

If Boehner is able to get his two-phase plan through Congress, phase two is directing a bipartisan committee of 12 lawmakers to come up with $1.8 trillion in deficit savings. The committee would have broad legislative jurisdiction for any proposal to reduce the debt, including adjustments to revenue, entitlement programs and spending. The House and Senate would then be directed to vote on the panel's recommendations by Thanksgiving, with no amendments allowed and a simple majority vote required for passage in each chamber.

With passage, President Obama could then submit a recommendation for a second debt ceiling increase, which would go into effect unless Congress cleared a resolution of disapproval, a measure Obama would likely veto.

Little by little both sides are making concessions toward an agreement. Reid said on Monday that tax increases were off the table. Boehner then unveiled his fallback plan, which he told House GOP member would require some of them to make some sacrifices.

For one, it shelved a requirement for Congress to approve a Constitutional balanced budget amendment as a condition for raising the debt limit. And an earlier demand for $6 trillion in spending cuts in exchange for a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt limit came down to less than half of that.

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