This Is How The Debt Deal Might Happen

harry reid

Photo: centre for American Progress via Flikr

The House of Representatives will vote today on Speaker of the House John Boehner’s plan to raise the debt limit and lower the deficit. Regardless of whether it passes, it is certain to fail in the Senate—where all 51 Democrats and two Independents have pledged to vote against it.But this should not be a cause for concern—as through all the rhetoric, for the first time in weeks, Democrats and Republicans are arguing from the same talking points.

Boehner’s plan and the one put forward by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offer nearly identical spending cuts, with the major difference between the two being whether there should be one or two votes to raise the debt limit.

Republicans want the second vote as an incentive for a bipartisan fiscal committee to reach an agreement on cuts that can pass both chambers of Congress. Democrats and President Barack Obama argue that a second vote would add needless uncertainty for the markets.

According to congressional sources this is how a deal will play out if everything goes according to plan:

If the Boehner bill makes it to the Senate, Reid has said he will amend it and use it as a “vehicle” for his own plan—giving it expedited consideration in the House.

With just a single vote to raise the debt limit through the end of 2012, Reid will likely offer Republicans some sort of “sweetener” to support his bill, including “triggers”—or mandatory actions that would take effect if the committee’s recommendations were not passed by Congress.

It is almost certain that Reid has the votes for such a compromise plan—as Democrats will back it and Republican Senators are growing frustrated with the tea party’s antics. 

The bill would return to the House, where nearly all of the 193 Democrats would back it, and the support of only a few dozen moderate Republicans would be needed to pass it and send it to Obama for his signature.

House Republicans have already exacted multiple victories—$1 for $1 cuts to debt limit increase, no taxes, and deep spending cuts. They would have a hard time defending their desire for a second vote by opposing a bill that actually has more cuts than the Boehner plan (even when war savings are excluded).

Lawmakers are awfully close to a deal today. Let’s hope they can bring it home.

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