House GOP Reworking Debt Plan After Delay

Despite the prospect of U.S. debt default if an Aug. 2 deadline isn't met, lawmakers continue to wrangle over competing proposals to increase the debt limit and cut spending. The House is working on a plan put forward by Speaker John Boehner; awaiting a vote in the senate is Majority leader Harry Reid's rival plan.

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Never mind the Republican battle against Democrats. Today, Republicans are working to agree amongst themselves. The House was expecting to vote today, on speaker John Boehner's plan to raise the federal debt ceiling. That vote has now been delayed a day as some Republicans question even their own speaker's solution. Democrats have made it no further with their plan in the Senate.

We start our coverage with NPR's David Welna.

DAVID WELNA: Over the weekend, House speaker John Boehner first walked out on talks he was holding with President Obama for a debt ceiling deal. Then he parted ways in talks with the Democratic leaders in Congress. He's left now, trying to pass his own proposal to raise the debt ceiling in two stages, even though White House advisers warned they'd recommend a veto.

Yesterday, Boehner acknowledge to reporters that even some of his fellow House Republicans have misgivings about his plan.

Represent JOHN BOEHNER (Republican, Ohio, Speaker): And I do think that we're going to have some work to do to get it passed. But I think we can do it.

WELNA: South Carolina freshman Trey Gowdy is among the House Republicans who say they're leaning no on Boehner's proposal.

Representative TREY GOWDY (Republican, South Carolina): He's at a very difficult position. And you want to support leadership. But ultimately you have to do what your constituents want you to do.

WELNA: Convincing Gowdy to lean yes was not made any easier when the Congressional Budget Office reported, last night, that Boehner's initial proposed spending cuts of $1.2 trillion were in reality worth just $850 billion.

Ohio's Jim Jordan chairs the conservative Republican Study Committee, which has 170 members. He said yesterday, after a meeting of House Republicans, that they alone could not muster a majority and pass Boehner's bill.

Representative JIM JORDAN (Republican, Ohio, Chairman, Republican Study Committee): I am confident as of this morning, that there were not 218 Republicans in support of the plan.

WELNA: And in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid dismissed Boehner's proposal, saying it was written, not for the American people, but rather for the Tea Party.

Senator HARRY REID (Democrat, Nevada, Majority Leader): Democrats will not vote for it, Democrats will not vote for it. It's dead on arrival in the Senate - if they get it out of the House.

WELNA: Reid has not yet brought his own proposal to lift the debt ceiling to the Senate floor. Unlike Boehner's, which initially raises the debt ceiling only enough for the next six months, the Democrats' plan would raise it until after next year's elections. But Reid's GOP counterpart, Mitch McConnell, came out yesterday, against that plan.

Senator MITCH MCCONNELL (Republican, Kentucky, Minority Leader): We believe the Reid proposal is not a serious effort to address deficit and debt and should be defeated.

WELNA: There's a real chance that neither plan will give the bipartisan backing needed to pass both the House and Senate. Tennessee's Lamar Alexander is the Senate's number three Republican.

Senator LAMAR ALEXANDER (Republican, Tennessee): My hope is that the speaker and Senator Reid could agree on a single recommendation, recommended to both Houses. If they did I think it would pass.

WELNA: But such an elusive compromise has yet to emerge.

David Welna, NPR News, the Capitol.

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