US’s Reid: Obama, Boehner Are Negotiating Debt Ceiling Deal
–Senate Majority Leader Reid: ‘I Wish Them Well’ in Budget Talks
–Hasn’t Been Involved In ‘Day-To-Day Negotiations’
–Obama And Boehner Are Discussing Spending Cuts, Revenues
–Weekend Session Not Needed; ‘Circumstances Have Changed’
By John Shaw
WASHINGTON (MNI) – In yet another surprising twist in the agonizing
saga to increase the U.S.’s statutory debt ceiling, Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid Friday abruptly cancelled the Senate’s weekend session
and said President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are working
aggressively to negotiate a “major deficit reduction measure” which
would also increase the debt ceiling.
In remarks on the Senate floor, Reid said he and Senate Minority
Leader Mitch McConnell are not even a part of these talks.
“I haven’t been in the day-to-day negotiations,” Reid said.
“I wish them both very well,” Reid said of Obama and Boehner.
He said that any budget agreement would move first through the
House so it was not necessary to begin moving a debt ceiling bill
through the Senate this weekend.
“Circumstances have changed,” he said, in explaining the
cancellation of the Senate’s weekend session.
Reid said the president and the speaker are negotiating a package
that includes both spending cuts and revenue increases. Boehner has said
repeatedly that he opposes adding tax increases into a deficit reduction
Reid spoke moments after the Senate rejected the House Republican’s
“Cut, Cap and Balance” plan on a 51 to 46 vote. Reid said the House GOP
plan is “over, done. It’s dead.”
Reid’s comments appear to suggest the option that he and McConnell
will draft a debt limit fallback plan is either dead or has been
Reid’s comments are surprising because Boehner in a Friday morning
briefing said he is waiting for the Senate to pass its own budget bill.
The Speaker even appeared to deny that he and Obama are in active budget
talks, saying only that he has kept the “lines of communication open.”
Reid is now meeting with the members of the so-called “Gang Of
Six.” The group of three Democratic and three Republican senators
developed a plan that would cut deficits by $3.75 trillion over a
decade. Their plan would include large savings from entitlement programs
and increase revenues by about $1.2 trillion.
The U.S. has already reached its $14.29 trillion debt ceiling.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said that Congress must pass
legislation increasing the debt ceiling by August 2.
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