Senate Vote Postponed To Allow White House Negotiations With GOP To Continue

Obama, Boehner, Reid, Pelosi

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Another wasted day.Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid postponed a vote on his plan to raise the debt limit until Sunday after 43 GOP Senators pledged to oppose the bill.

The White House is negotiating with congressional Republicans to modify the Boehner bill and provide another alternative to raising the debt ceiling.

Meanwhile the House of Representatives voted down Senate Majority Leader Reid’s ‘compromise’ plan to raise the borrowing limit. The dummy vote was pushed by House Republicans to show they still support Speaker of the House John Boehner’s rival plan.

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11:23pm | AP sources: Significant progress toward debt deal between White House and GOP

Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have been in contact throughout the day Saturday to work out a compromise between the Boehner and Reid debt ceiling plans. It appears those plans are bearing fruit, as signs point to a deal being reach tomorrow.

11:12pm | That’s it for our liveblog tonight.
We’ll be back first thing in the morning tomorrow to bring you the latest from the Sunday shows, the ongoing White House negotiations and the Reid vote. 


10:57pm | If Reid and McConnell Reach A Deal Tomorrow
The Senate will need unanimous consent to skirt Senate rules of debate in order to get a vote before the August 2nd deadline. The vote could still be by simple majority, but a vote to end debate on the measure would be pushed forward.

This is just about guaranteed if the two leaders can agree on a plan — as no Senator would risk the country’s fiscal health so close to the deadline, and because they would instantly become persona non grata to both parties in a body that on most issues puts collegiality before partisanship.

10:42pm | The possible deal?
ABC News’ Jon Karl reports that the deal being considered in the White House is as follows:

  • Debt ceiling increase of up to $2.8 trillion [Enough to last through the beginning of 2013]
  • [Immediate] Spending cuts of roughly $1 trillion
  • Special committee to recommend cuts of $1.8 trillion (or whatever it takes to add up to the total of the debt ceiling increase) 
  • Committee must make recommendations before Thanksgiving recess 
  • If Congress does not approve those cuts by late December, automatic across-the-board cuts go into effect, including cuts to defence and Medicare

This represents a compromise between the Boehner and Reid plans — with a single debt limit increase through, but “triggers” to incentivise a debt deal. It would also likely include an agreement for the Senate to hold a separate vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution

This is by no means finalised, and Senators will meet with the White House tonight to iron out a deal.

The Senate would then take it up, before bringing it to the House, where Democrats and Republicans would be required to join together in a bipartisan vote to raise the debt limit — likely with just hours left until the deadline.

Update: This report is being disputed by some aides, a testament to the fluidity of, and the confusion surrounding, these negotiations.

10:29pm | Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) tell Reuters he is “more optimistic about chances for a debt limit increase deal.
He adds that reports of entitlements in deal “are fragmentary and inaccurate”

10:14pm | Down to the wire.
Negotiations are continuing between the White House and congressional Republicans tonight to negotiate a last-ditch deal to raise the debt limit.

A big sticking point are the “triggers” on the “Super Committee” that will push bipartisan deficit cuts later this year under both the Boehner and Reid plans.

10:14pm | The Senate adjourned for the night.
Will return at noon on Sunday, with a vote on the Reid bill at 1pm if no new compromise is reached. 


10:07pm | Reid speaking now.
“There are negotiations going on at the White House now”

Reid postpones cloture vote until 1 pm SundayReid says there is “still a distance to go before any arrangement can be completed”

Reid says he wants to give both sides room to negotiate a deal to raise the debt limit.

10:04pm | Reid is expected to speak momentarily.
He is on the Senate floor. He is expected to provide an update on the status of negotiations and the timing of votes.


NBC is reporting he may delay the cloture vote scheduled tonight until tomorrow.

10:02pm | McConnell-Biden talking today.
They have spoken at least four times today — and are rumoured to be trying to work out a deal based off the Boehner plan.

The New York Times reports that it may include mandatory cuts to entitlement spending if Congress can’t agree to lower the deficit in a second vote later this year.



9:55pm | Dealmaker or Dealbreaker.
McConnell can be either tonight. He and Reid have had a surprisingly cordial relationship during this impasse up until last night, but he has refused to publicly break with Speaker of the House John Boehner.

“Tell your henchman to stop saying nice things about me,” McConnell, told Reid earlier this week, according to POLITICO. “It hurts me.”

Read the full report here

9:38pm | “Triggers” explained.
Expect to be hearing the word “triggers” thrown around a lot this weekend. Republicans are demanding that there be consequences if spending cuts put forward by a bipartisan fiscal commission fail to pass Congress. 

The Boehner plan makes a second increase in the debt limit conditional on passing those cuts to the deficit and passing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

Democrats are demanding that the debt limit not be held hostage by a more cuts — and especially a balanced budget amendment which is certain to fail — and are counter-offering with spending cuts and other proposals to incentivise the consideration of the commission’s cuts by both parties.

9:31pm | Democrats are accusing Republican Senators of a filibuster.
Harry Reid has repeatedly requested unanimous consent to vote on his bill, but Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has demanded that vote require 60 votes. Reid calls this a filibuster, because Democrats want a straight majority vote on the bill.

9:28pm | The next big deadline is midnight.
If a deal is not reached by midnight tonight, the Senate will be unable to act to raise the debt limit by August 2nd without unanimous consent — a tall order.

The 1 am vote is not on the Reid bill — but to end debate on the Reid bill. The final vote would be on Monday morning if the cloture vote passes.

9:26pm | The Senate is still debating the Reid plan.
They’ve been at it all day, and will keep going until 1 a.m.

9:25pm | No Obama tonight.
We have a lid — so President Obama won’t be speaking tonight. He will likely put out a statement after the Senate cloture vote at 1 am.


7:37pm | Pelosi backs 14th amendment option.
The Huffington Post reports:

“Nancy clearly wants it,” said the lawmaker, who requested anonymity. “Publicly? No. Privately? She thinks the president should do it. Period.”

6:59pm | Wrangling.
Lots of behind the scenes manoeuvring in the Senate tonight as Reid tries to build support for his plan, while McConnell looks to keep his caucus in line and negotiate a better deal with President Obama.

It’s going to be a long night.

6:13pm | McConnell.
McConnell says he cut short phone call with Biden to go on floor for the unusual live quorum call, which brought all Senators to the floor.

6:11pm | F-I-I-L-I-B-U-S-T-E-R.
Reid calls GOP action a “filibuster” says GOP not allowing straight up or down vote

Reid is asking unanimous consent for an up-down vote. McConnell objects.

6:09pm | McConnell speaks.
McConnell: “We need to be in a position where we, in the leadership, can say we’ve reached a framework of an agreement.”

McConnell again saying that working with Obama is the only solution.

6:06pm | Reid says no progress today.
Reid: Talk of bargain “is not true.”

Reid: “The engagement there is not in any meaningful way.”

Reid: Merely saying you have an agreement in front of TV cameras doesn’t make it so.”

Reid: While the Republican leader is holding meaningless press conferences, his members are coming to me and trying to move the process”

Reid: “The process has not been moved forward during this day”

5:29pm | No closer.
Reid to reporters after his meeting with Obama: “The question is are we closer to an agreement, the answer is ‘no.'”

5:16pm | White House meeting over:
A White House official said the meeting with the President and Vice President with Leader Reid and Leader Pelosi ended at 5:05PM. No further information was available.

4:09pm | The takeaway.
The buzz in DC that a deal is afoot, after Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said President Barack Obama is “fully engaged” in negotiations. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are meeting with Obama now, ostensibly to “brief” the President. 

Appearing to acknowledge his bill will not be the final deal, Boehner said “We are going to be able to come to some agreement with the White House and end this impasse.”

An agreement needs to be reached by midnight in order to guarantee it can pass Congress by August 2nd.

4:04pm | Quick reaction from White House.
Communications Director Dan Pfieffer tweets: RE GOP presser: 1) Both McConnell and Reid have said there was no agreement 2)House GOP couldnt even pass the bill they think was agreed to

He adds: Just to pass their bill by a single vote, the House GOP had to include a measure that would require us to amend the Constitution or default

3:57pm | Negotiations return to the White House.
Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are speaking about the debt ceiling negotiations now.

Boehner: There’s bipartisan opposition to Sen. Reid’s proposal

Boehner: It’s time for Obama, Democrats to tell us what they’re for

McConnell says he has spoken to Obama, Biden in the last hour, he added that Obama is “fully engaged” in the negotiations now.

McConnell says he is confident there will be an agreement “in the very near future” to end this crisis

Both he and Boehner said they are negotiating with the White House now, and did not mention Senate Democrats

McConnell: “We now have the level of seriousness needed at the table” to reach a deal

McConnell: “We’re going to get it resolved. Our country is not going to default”

Boehner: “Sen. Reid, Sen. McConnell and I had a solid agreement last Sunday. It was Obama who derailed that agreement.”

3:46pm | Compromise.
Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) says at least 20 senators, of both parties, have a hand in three compromise options. All have triggers with “the potential for revenues”

3:42pm | Standoff.
John McCain tweets: House rejects Reid proposal. We’re in a standoff. It’s time to get something done.

3:30pm | The White House meeting:
A White House official said President will meet with Leader Reid and Leader Pelosi at the White House at 3:30 pm to receive an update on the situation in the House and Senate. Meeting is closed press.

3:27pm | Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
“The Senate plan can’t pass the Senate.”

3:18pm | Running out of time.
Reid tells GOP Senators they have until midnight tonight to relay any changes and to get them into his compromise plan. Reid must file cloture by then to set up a final vote on Tuesday.

3:16pm | The House has just adjourned until Sunday.
Now the focus is on the Senate, and the big cloture vote tonight. 

3:15pm | White House meeting.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will meet with President Obama at 3:30.

3:14pm | House not in session on Sunday.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says the House will meet in pro forma session tomorrow. No votes expected until Monday at noon.

3:06pm | Reid to the White House.
Reid: We can still do this. We can still change this.

Reid: “We are at a crucial time in the history of the country. We’ve said it before, but it’s true.”

At press conference, Reid says that at least one Republican Senator who signed the letter in opposition to his bill has already opened channel with Senate Democrats.

Reid said he’ll have a balanced budget amendment vote (bill written by Mark Udall)

2:55pm | The House of Representatives has voted down the Reid plan to raise the debt limit.
Under suspension of the rules, a two-thirds was required. There were no GOP votes for the bill.

Final tally: 173-246; 11 Democratic no votes


2:52pm | House voting on Reid bill now.
15 minute vote. Needs a two-thirds margin to pass.

2:48pm | The Dark Side.
Pelosi says Boehner “chose to go to the dark side” during his negotiations on the debt limit, and once again encourages a yes vote on the Reid bill.

2:42pm | Boehner and McConnell to speak at 3:30.
This will be one to pay attention to.

UPDATE: pushed back to 3:45

2:40pm | Pelosi on the House floor.
Urges Democrats and Republicans to support Reid legislation.

Pelosi asks why GOP bringing the Reid bill up under “suspension of the rules” which requires a two-thirds vote.

Pelosi calls the Boehner bill “perfectly absurd.”

Pelosi refuses to yield to GOP Rep. Dreier who tries to get in a word edge-wise.

She then says “it’s very important that we all take a deep breath”

“It’s time for us to end this theatre of the absurd. It’s time for us to get real.”

2:35pm | Obama supports the Reid bill — again.
The Office of Management and Budget says President Obama supports the version of the Reid bill introduced in the House. Republicans are set to vote the bill down within the hour.

2:33pm | Compromise vs. Solutions:
Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-MS): “We hear [Democrats] talk a lot about compromise. The American people want solutions.”

2:19pm | Democrats love The Wall Street Journal today.
Citing this op-ed repeatedly: “Republicans are not looking like adults to whom voters can entrust the government.”

2:13pm | Pelosi to speak shortly.

2:07pm | McConnell spokesman says “Reid bill is over.”

If Republican opposition holds, Reid may be forced to amend his plan in order to gain the 60 votes required to end debate on the measure.

2:04pm | The Congressional Black Caucus may not vote for the Reid bill.
POLITICO reports they are meeting today to decide whether to back it. Earlier this week they called for a “clean” increase in the debt limit with no spending cuts.

2:01pm | Rep. Sander Levin: “This is a disgraceful moment.

Calls Rep. David Dreier’s position on the Reid plan “pernicious nonsense.”

1:59pm | Michele Bachmann on the House floor.
The Minnesota representative and GOP presidential candidate attacks Obama for demanding “blank checks” and not offering a plan to bring down the deficit. She voted no on the Boehner debt limit plan and says she is a no vote on any plan to raise the debt limit.

1:55pm | Fiery speech from Democratic Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer on the House Floor:
“You have not moved a single centimeter toward compromise on a debt bill.”

He says the Reid bill incorporates the views of Speaker Boehner and Leader Eric Cantor and makes it a long term debt limit increase.

1:50pm | Democratic Senators will hold a press conference to oppose GOP “Filibuster”
Scheduled for 3pm.

1:48pm | These 4 GOP senators have not opposed the Reid plan.
Brown, Snowe, Collins, Murkowski.

Reid needs three more Republicans to end debate on the measure tonight.

1:46pm | House begins debate on Reid bill.
Vote should be within the hour, and it is likely to fail.

1:38pm | McConnell wants a vote on the Reid plan today.
He says 43 Republicans are opposed to the Reid plan in its updated form. That’s enough to block tonight’s cloture vote.

1:30pm | Reid: GOP won’t compromise:
On the Senate floor: “As recently as yesterday morning I asked my friend, the Senate Minority Leader, to help make this Senate compromise more palatable to Republicans. Yet we have heard nothing from the Republican leader.”

11:00am | Snowe calls for compromise.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), a moderate Republican Reid hopes to bring over to support his proposal has released a statement calling for bipartisanship to end the negotiating impasse.

“Time is of the essence, and the moment has long since arrived for shelving politics and instead striking the right policy. Hopefully now all sides will work together in an expeditious manner to work out the issues and bring us closer to agreement. I do find it rather ironic that for this entire year, this Senate, described as ‘least productive’ at a time that coincides with one of the most challenging economic periods of our nation’s history, has done nothing substantial, rejecting numerous opportunities to pursue policies important to our job creation, boosting our economy, and doing what is right for the fiscal stability of our nation.”

10:57am | Boehner calls Reid bill “dead on arrival” in the House:
From Speaker of the House John Boehner’s blog:

“Today the House of Representatives will bring up – and defeat – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s debt limit legislation. This vote will demonstrate that the Reid bill cannot pass the House. This will also expose any Senate vote on the Reid bill as a pointless political exercise that squanders precious time as the specter of a job-crushing default looms.”

10:56am | Good Saturday morning.
The House and Senate will convene at 1pm today. The House will likely go out of session after a vote on the Reid plan to raise the debt limit, while the Senate will stick around until 1 am Sunday to vote to end debate on the plan.

10:00am | Adjusting the clock.
When we started our countdown clock at the beginning of the month, we set the end date as 12:01 AM August 2nd. We’ve now changed that to August 3rd on the advice of the Treasury Department, which has said the deadline for a deal is 11:59 PM August 2nd.

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