With just three days to go before Congress’s deadline to raise the debt ceiling and avoid sending the country into default, leaders continued to struggle Saturday to work out a bipartisan deal that can pass both chambers and be signed into law by President Obama.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters at an afternoon news conference that they had spoken with President Obama, and both insisted that the Tuesday deadline will be met.
“Our country is not going to default for the first time in history; that is not going to happen,” McConnell said. “We now have a level of seriousness, with the right people at the table, that we needed.”
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said after a 90-minute meeting at the White House that congressional leaders and Obama were no closer to a deal on raising the country’s debt ceiling than they were at the start of the day.
“The speaker and the majority leader should know that merely saying you have an agreement in front of the television cameras doesn’t make it so,” Reid said, accusing McConnell and Boehner of “holding meaningless press conferences.”
The House voted around 3 p.m. to reject a plan from Reid, but the vote was on Reid’s original plan, not the re-worked version he presented in the Senate on Friday night. But the revised plan was faring no better Saturday, when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) delivered a letter to Reid, signed by 43 Republicans, declaring it unacceptable.
Needing 60 votes to clear a filibuster hurdle, Reid’s current draft is assured of failure in a Senate scheduled for 1 a.m. Sunday."