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Fresh from Obama's 'homework' rebuke, Congress considers staying put to hammer out debt deal

June 29, 2011|By Lisa Mascaro and James Oliphant
(Saul Loeb / AFP-Getty Images )

Compared unfavorably earlier in the day to President Obama’s two young daughters, congressional leaders responded by suggesting that they may be willing to stay in session as long as it takes to resolve the stalemate over raising the federal debt limit.

The Senate is considering doing away with its July 4 recess and the House said it will remain in session as needed after President Obama called on Congress on Wednesday to keep working to resolve the stalemate over raising the debt limit.

Senate Democratic leaders were discussing the issue with members.

A spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the House would be in session as needed.  At the same time, a group of GOP senators said the chamber should stay in session.

Congress is operating on a divided schedule this year as the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate use different calendars. That results in many weeks like this one where one chamber is in session while the other is on recess.

The split schedule has made it potentially difficult for leaders to negotiate an end to the impasse over raising the debt limit. Treasury said it faces a devastating default if borrowing authority is not increased by Aug. 2.

During his news conference at the White House, Obama, in harsh tones, urged both Democrats and Republicans to stay in Washington until an agreement is struck.

“Aug. 2 is a very important date and there’s no reason why we can’t get this done now. We know what the options are out there. This is not a technical problem any longer. This is the matter of Congress going ahead and biting the bullet and making some tough decisions,” Obama said.

Obama then suggested that Congress isn’t nearly as disciplined as his two daughters.

“You know, Malia and Sasha generally finish their homework a day ahead of time. Malia is 13 and Sasha is 10. It is impressive. They don’t wait until the night before. They’re not pulling all-nighters,” he said. “They’re 13 and 10. You know, Congress can do the same thing. If you know you’ve got to do something, just do it.”

He also took a shot at Congress’ work schedule, saying: “They’re in one week. They’re out one week. And then they’re saying Obama’s got to step in – you need to be here, I’ve been here, I’ve been doing Afghanistan, bin Laden, and the Greek crisis. You stay here. Let’s get it done.”

The new nonpartisan political advocacy group No Labels has also been pressing Congress to stay in session until a deal is reached.

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