Congress Closer To Debt Deal?

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WASHINGTON, July 31 (UPI) — A key U.S. senator said Sunday Congress was close to finalizing a hard-fought deal that would raise the government’s debt ceiling and avert a potential default.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the Republican leader of the Senate, told CNN the negotiations had made good progress the day before and the two parties were “very close” to reaching an agreement.

McConnell said on CNN’s “State of the Union” he was “very, very close to being able … to recommend to my members that this is something that they ought to support.”

McConnell said the deal might not include any tax increases, something the majority Democrats had been insisting on as a means of chipping away at the budget deficit rather than relying solely on cuts to social programs.

The halls of Congress were busy Sunday morning as lawmakers debated a compromise bill that would avert a federal debt default Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the upper house would convene at noon and vote at 1 p.m. on a compromise bill hammered out Saturday, The Washington Post reported.

It would raise the country’s $14.3 trillion debt limit by up to $2.4 trillion in two stages — $1 trillion now, matched by cuts, and the rest in 2012 unless two-thirds of both houses disapprove, the Post said.

Without steering legislation, the United States will be unable to meet most of its financial obligations after Tuesday, The New York Times said.

Reid told a news conference the latest bid to end partisan bickering came as a result of talks between McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden.

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