As Deadline Looms, Debt Deal Eludes Congress
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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Mary Louise Kelly.
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Very little has happened, as expected, and we begin our coverage with NPR's Ari Shapiro.
ARI SHAPIRO: Well, that's not what happened. When the clock ticked closer to the scheduled House vote last night, Speaker Boehner realized he did not have enough support from his party's right wing. He stalled while the House clerk brought a different bill to the floor.
HR: HR 789, a bill to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located...
SHAPIRO: While the post office occupied the House floor, the speaker's office became the scene of some heavy coercion and horse-trading on the bill to raise the debt ceiling. Republican freshmen went one by one to speak with the party leaders behind closed doors. One problem was Pell grants. Republicans said they were upset that the Boehner plan includes $17 billion over two years for college student loans.
D: Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he won't tolerate a bill that would require another vote to raise the debt ceiling in six months.
HARRY REID: We must not be back here in six weeks or six months debating whether to allow our nation to default on its financial obligations for Republicans' right wing that seem to be controlling so much of what they're doing in the House.
SHAPIRO: Kevin McCarthy is in charge of rounding up Republican votes.
KEVIN MCCARTHY: You have one in the White House that doesn't know how to lead except from the back. A man that knew that the debt crisis was coming even when he voted against it a number of years ago. He says he's changed his ways, but has never produced a plan.
SHAPIRO: Political scientist Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution says after that, Mr. Obama could not have kept up the public pressure this week.
BILL GALSTON: He had shot every arrow in his quiver without achieving his intended result, and I think he had no choice but to back off and let the Congress work its will for a while.
SHAPIRO: The White House has deployed a fleet of surrogates instead. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood took the lectern in the White House briefing room yesterday.
RAY LAHOOD: This is a time that I think most of us that have watched politics have never seen before.
SHAPIRO: LaHood was a Republican member of Congress for 14 years. He marveled that there are members today who don't believe in compromise.
LAHOOD: We need for people to come together, set aside their own egos, a certain part of their own agenda, for the American people. To makes sure we maintain the strongest economy in the world.
SHAPIRO: Ari Shapiro, NPR News, Washington.
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