White House, congressional leaders announce debt ceiling deal

Amanda Carey Contributor
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Republican and Democratic lawmakers reportedly reached a deal on the debt limit on Sunday night. The compromise comes after a weekend of failed votes and long discussions between leaders of the respective parties in an effort to avoid a first-ever American debt default on August 2.

Emerging from one such meeting on Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told assembled reporters, “We’re moving forward together.” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell followed up by saying, “There is now a framework.”

President Barack Obama confirmed a deal had been reached in a press briefing Sunday night, saying what while it was not the deal he wanted, it will “allow us to avoid default and end the crisis Washington imposed on the rest of America.”

According to a summary of the bill provided by Speaker of the House John Boehner’s office, the plan immediately cuts discretionary spending by $917 billion over ten years, and raises the debt ceiling by $900 billion. There are no tax hikes included.

The debt limit increase is expected to last until February. Like the Boehner plan that was tabled in the Senate on Friday, the current plan requires a vote on a balanced budget amendment after October 1, but before the end of the year.

In February 2012, the president can request another debt limit increase of $1.5 trillion, if either a newly created Joint Committee authorizes spending cuts greater than the hike, or a budget amendment has been passed by the states.

In a conference call with the House GOP caucus Sunday, Boehner said he wanted to have the bill, which he said stays within the framework Republicans have been operating in, on the floor as soon as possible. (RELATED: Sen. Reid OKs GOP-Obama debt deal)

“I realize that’s not ideal, and I apologize,” the Speaker said, though reminding members how far they had come in the debt limit fight.

“I’m gonna tell you, this has been a long battle — we’ve fought valiantly — and frankly we’ve done it by listening to the American people,” Boehner said. “And as a result, our framework is now on the table that will end this crisis in a manner that meets our principles of smaller government.”

“Now listen,” the Speaker added. “This isn’t the greatest deal in the world.  But it shows how much we’ve changed the terms of the debate in this town. There is nothing in this framework that violates our principles.”

The bipartisan agreement was reached after Boehner offered a plan that passed in the House but was tabled in the Senate, and Reid produced an alternative deal that met a similar fate.

The challenge now will be whether Tea Party Republicans in the House and Senate can give the plan their support. Now that a deal is on the table, Boehner, along with his Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, will have to round up and count the votes.

There are 240 Republicans in the House. Many of them can be expected to vote no, which means the spotlight will be on Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to bring her Democratic caucus on board.