Assistant House Minority Leader James Clyburn, D-S.C., one of six lawmakers led by Vice President Joe Biden working on a plan to raise the debt ceiling, said on Tuesday he doesn’t favor a short-term increase in the debt limit that would require Congress to revisit the issue before the 2012 election.
“I would hope we... won’t piecemeal it,” Clyburn said upon emerging from a meeting of the group, the first session of an intensive week-long press to get a deal. They are set to meet Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, and tentatively scheduled to meet Friday morning.
The heavy meeting schedule comes as the group pushes to reach an agreement on a bipartisan deficit reduction plan that would win enough support in Congress to raise the debt ceiling before August 2, when the Treasury Department has said it would exhaust its borrowing authority.
The group hopes to get a deal in principle by July 1.
But the task is daunting. Republicans and Democrats are at loggerheads over including taxes in the plan. Republicans oppose raising taxes as a way to reduce the deficit and are more focused on limiting spending. Democrats, who are in agreement on including spending cuts, also want tax increases, such as closing special interest loopholes.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., raised the idea this week of a stopgap, short-term debt ceiling increase if the Biden talks fail.
But many of the Biden group members said they were not focused on a short-term deal.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said he also doesn’t favor voting more than once on the debt ceiling. "My preference is we do this one time," Cantor said.
Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and House Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., also said that they back a long-term debt ceiling increase.
“We’re still very focused on trying to get something done; to get an agreement done that would allow us to extend the debt ceiling until the end of next year,” Van Hollen said. “That’s plan A. That’s our focus.”
Asked if there is a plan B, Van Hollen added, “We’re just focused on plan A for right now.”