Last-minute debt compromise 'very near' - or not

Decrease Increase Text size

WASHINGTON (AP) - After weeks of intense partisanship, President Barack Obama and congressional leaders made a last-minute stab at compromise Saturday night to avoid a government default threatened for early next week.

Harry Reid and John Boehner in a meeting earlier this week. (Photo: Associated Press)

"There are many elements to be finalized...there is still a distance to go," Majority Leader Harry Reid cautioned in dramatic late-night remarks on the Senate floor.

Still, his disclosure that "talks are going on at the White House now," coupled with his saying progress had been made, offered the strongest indication yet that a default might be averted.

White House officials had no immediate comment.

Reid said that at the request of White House officials, he was postponing a test vote set for shortly after midnight on his own legislation to raise the debt limit while cutting spending.

Republicans opposed the bill, and said in advance they had the votes to block its advance.

There were no details immediately available on what the terms might be of any compromise.

Without legislation in place by next Tuesday, administration officials say the Treasury will run out of funds to pay all the nation's bills. They say a subsequent default could prove catastrophic for the U.S. economy and send shockwaves around the world.

The president is seeking legislation to raise the government's $14.3 trillion debt limit by about $2.4 trillion, enough to tide the Treasury over until after the 2012 elections.

Over many weeks, he has agreed to Republican demands that deficits be cut - without a requirement for tax increases - in exchange for additional U.S. borrowing authority.

But Obama has threatened to veto any legislation that would require a second vote in Congress for any additional borrowing authority to take effect, saying that would invite a recurrence of the current crisis in the heat of next year's election campaigns.

Reid: Debt negotiations underway at White House

WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says negotiations aimed at resolving the debt-limit standoff are under way at the White House.

As a result, the Nevada Democrat postponed a test vote on a Democratic debt limit proposal that had been scheduled for shortly after midnight. He says he's delaying that vote until 1 p.m. Sunday to give negotiators time to work out an agreement.

In a brief statement on the Senate floor, Reid said that many parts of the potential pact remain to be worked out.

Last-minute debt compromise 'very near' - or not

WASHINGTON (AP) - After weeks of intense partisanship, Republican congressional leaders and the White House made a last-minute stab at compromise Saturday to avoid a government default threatened for early next week.

But there was no undisputed evidence of progress by day's end, only expressions of anxiety among lawmakers that a potentially crippling blow to the nation's economy was drawing uncomfortably close.

The deadline for raising the nation's debt limit and averting an unprecedented U.S. default was just three days away.

"We are now fully engaged, the speaker and I, with the one person in America out of 307 million people who can sign a bill into law," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said at a joint news conference with House Speaker John Boehner.

"I'm confident and optimistic that we're going to get an agreement in the very near future and resolve this crisis in the best interests of the American people."

But McConnell's upbeat assessment triggered an unusually pointed rebuttal from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"That's not true," said the Nevada Democrat after returning from a meeting at the White House with Obama and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

Adding further confusion, the White House declined comment on the day's developments.

That left prospects for a compromise murky.

  1. «
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. »

Would you like to contribute to this story? Join the discussion.

Recommended For You
comments powered by Disqus