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Harry Reid signs off on possible debt-ceiling deal

July 31, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) leaves a meeting with top House Democrats where they worked out a new plan on raising the debt ceiling that Reid said could be put to a vote in the Senate on Sunday.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) leaves a meeting with top House… (Joshua Roberts, Reuters )

Reporting from Washington   —
Breaking news:


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced they had come to an agreement on a deal that would raise the debt limit and reduce the deficit.

Speaking from the White House,President Obama acknowledged the "messy" fight over the nation's debt and deficits has "taken far too long," but thanked leaders for finding "their way toward compromise" and urged Americans to continue pressuring lawmakers until the deal is voted out of Congress.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has given tentative approval to a potential deal that would raise the nation's debt limit while cutting spending, with time running out for Congress to act before the nation loses its ability to borrow money to pay its bills.

Reid's endorsement, subject to the approval of his caucus, indicates the White House and congressional leaders may have narrowed remaining differences on a final package that could be put to a vote soon.

Reid made the announcement shortly after a meeting of top Senate and House Democrats in Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's office. As he left the meeting, Reid told reporters there was a chance the Senate could vote on the deal Sunday.

"I hope so," he said.

The office of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he had not signed off on the deal. A senior White House aide said there was no deal yet, and that talks were continuing. 

The leaders have been discussing a bill that would achieve $3 trillion in deficit savings while extending the nation's borrowing capacity to 2013. It calls for the formation of a special joint committee that would recommend further cuts and entitlement reforms that could be voted on this fall.

Republicans leaders have yet to bring the details to their respective caucuses.

Details of the framework havePresident Obama's Democratic allies on edge. The chairman of the House Progressive Caucus, the voice of Democrats' more liberal members, promised to oppose the deal as outlined.

"This deal trades peoples' livelihoods for the votes of a few unappeasable right-wing radicals, and I will not support it," said Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona. "The very wealthy will continue to receive taxpayer handouts, and corporations will keep their expensive federal giveaways. Meanwhile, millions of families unfairly lose more in this deal than they have already lost. I will not be a part of it."

Grijalva is pushing for a clean debt ceiling vote with no conditions attached. If that fails, he says Obama should use "his 14th Amendment responsibilities."

Peter Nicholas, Kathleen Hennessey and Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

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