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Senate quickly acts to block House debt-ceiling plan

July 29, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli
  • Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) speaks to reporters with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) before voting on the House Republicans' debt ceiling plan Friday.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) speaks to reporters with Senate Majority… (Nicholas Kamm, AFP/Getty…)

The Senate voted Friday evening to reject Speaker John A. Boehner's debt-ceiling plan just hours after it moved through the House, setting up a dramatic weekend of negotiations as Congress works to stave off a potential federal default.

The Senate tally was 59-41 on the motion to table the House plan, including some Republican votes.

Even as leaders from both parties engage in frenetic talks on the way forward, the House will hold yet another symbolic vote. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced the chamber plans to hold a vote on legislation that closely mirrors Reid's plan, planning to kill it even before the Senate can adopt it.

In a statement on the earlier House vote, White House press secretary Jay Carney called Reid's plan the basis for final compromise and called for an end to "political exercise[s]."

"The president urges Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to find common ground on a plan that can get support from both parties in the House – a plan the president can sign by Tuesday," he said.

The likely compromise would be similar to major elements of Boehner's plan, but would drop his requirement that Congress go through another potentially protracted debate over the debt ceiling late this year.

Instead, it would include a complex mechanism that would attempt to guarantee that Congress will approve further reductions in the long-term federal deficit early in 2012.

The overall goal would be to cut the long-term deficit by more than $2 trillion over the next 10 years, in part by empowering a special congressional committee to propose spending cuts and possibly revenue increases later this year.

Congressional officials hope to develop a compromise that could pass the Senate early next week as the clock ticks down and then go back to the House and pass with a coalition of Democratic and Republican votes.

Kathleen Hennessey and Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

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