Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Wednesday morning that the fallback Senate plan to raise the federal debt ceiling is ready to go, but that averting default depends on House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and his Republican caucus signaling what plan they can pass.
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“Right now I am at the point where I am saying, we need to hear from the House of Representatives,” Reid said in a floor speech. “We have a plan to go forward over here. I await the word from the speaker.”
Reid said he “had a terrific conversation with” President Obama on Tuesday night. Obama threw support behind a broad Gang of Six deficit-cutting proposal earlier in the day.
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“He understands the issues as well as anyone in the country,” Reid said.
The majority leader brushed off a pending Senate defeat of the House-passed “cut, cap and balance” bill in a vote expected by Saturday, and GOP arguments that Obama has failed to offer a plan. He is working to pressure House Republicans to express support for any proposal that can pass.
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Reid has questioned whether the Gang of Six plan outlined on Tuesday can be produced in the days left until an Aug. 2 deadline set by the Treasury Department for raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. But Democratic leadership staffers say Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have their last-ditch option to give Obama power to raise the ceiling ready if the House can find the votes for it.
A spokesman for Boehner would not immediately discuss whether the president also has spoken with the top House Republicans, but White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Wednesday that President Obama spoke via telephone with congressional leaders on Tuesday. Later on Wednesday, Obama will meet first with Democratic Hill leaders, Carney said, and then the president will meet with their GOP counterparts, a leadership aide.
In response to Reid, spokesman Michael Steel said, “We are well aware of the deadline, which is why we hope Senator Reid will move quickly to schedule a Senate vote on the ‘cut, cap, and balance’ plan that passed the House with bipartisan support last night.”