WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 (UPI) — Congressional leaders said they hoped to pass a compromise bill by Monday night to raise the U.S. debt ceiling and cut spending $2.4 trillion, averting default.
The bill, worked out largely between Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, provides for an initial $917 billion in spending cuts over 10 years followed by another $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion in cuts that a special joint congressional committee would be charged with finding through a tax overhaul and changes to safety-net programs, the congressional leaders and White House said.
No one speaking Sunday night said they liked the bill — in fact, virtually every politician said they would have preferred something different — but the compromise “will allow us to avoid default and end the crisis that Washington imposed on the rest of America,” President Barack Obama said.
U.S. Treasury officials have said the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling had to be raised by Tuesday or the government could run short of money to pay its bills, including payments to veterans, contractors and Social Security recipients.
“Is this the deal I would have preferred?” Obama said Sunday on national TV. “No.”
But the deal also ensures “we will not face this same kind of crisis again in six months or eight months or 12 months,” Obama said. “And it will begin to lift the cloud of debt and the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over our economy.”
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told House Republicans in a conference call Sunday night: “If I wrote this myself, it would look different. But I wouldn’t agree to it or put it on the floor if it violated our principles or would hurt the economy,” Republicans who participated in the call told The Washington Post.
Boehner hailed “the courage of all of you for helping us take this giant step forward,” the participants told the Post.
“It shows how much we’ve changed the terms of the debate in this town,” The Wall Street Journal quoted him as saying.
In pressing Tea Party conservatives to support the compromise, he said voting against it would lead to a “job-killing default” that would further hurt the bleak employment picture, The New York Times reported.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Democrats might be reluctant to rally behind the bill.
“I look forward to reviewing the legislation with my caucus to see what level of support we can provide,” she said in a statement.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he knew “this agreement won’t make every Republican happy — it certainly won’t make every Democrat happy either.”
But “the American people demanded compromise, and today they got it,” he said, adding he was “relieved” leaders from both parties reached a compromise that ended “this dangerous standoff.”
McConnell, R-Ky., said the measure provided a framework to “ensure significant cuts [are made] in Washington spending — and we can assure the American people tonight that the United States of America will not for the first time in our history default on its obligations.”
Asian stock markets responded favorably to the deal, with the Nikkei 225 stock index up nearly 2 percent in late-afternoon trading and the U.S. dollar rising against the Japanese yen and the euro.
McConnell and Reid said they planned for a Senate vote as soon as Monday afternoon. If the measure passes as expected, it would move to the House, which could vote as soon as Monday night, Boehner told GOP lawmakers in the conference call.