Senate Opts to Stay in D.C. to Continue Debt Deal Discussions

July 1, 2011 Bookmark and Share

A planned Senate recess for the Fourth of July holiday has been cancelled so Senators can focus on ongoing budget talks, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Thursday.

Reid and his Republican counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) both met with President Barack Obama this week on the debt issue, a week after talks being led by Vice President Joe Biden faltered.

Press reports peg the biggest disagreements on if and how to raise revenue in addition to cutting spending. Obama pressed the issue of raising taxes, likely by cutting certain tax advantages or eliminating loopholes, at a rare press conference held Wednesday.

The ongoing negotiations are working to achieve a sweeping debt reduction package that could facilitate a vote to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, which has technically already been breached by borrowing.

Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner has said that if the debt ceiling isn’t raised by Aug. 2, the country would have to drastically reduce outlays, default on its significant debt or both, which would cause economic consequences throughout the world economy.

Despite this looming issue, the budgeting and appropriating processes in the Senate progressed this week.

There were reports, but no announcement, of a budget resolution agreement among Senate Democrats. Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) has been holding off on the resolution pending the ongoing debt talks.

The Senate Appropriations Committee also approved its first of 12 appropriations bills, the military construction-Veterans Affairs measure.

The House approved a budget resolution on April 15 and has processed three of 12 appropriations bills, including an agriculture measure that dramatically reduced outlays for agricultural research, food aid and some other spending. The House had previously planned to be in session next week.

NAWG will continue to follow the budget process as it progresses and report on it and its implications for existing and future policy priorities as needed.