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Republican senators consider backing Reid debt plan

US Senator Scott Brown, Ranking member of the Senate Contracting Oversight Subcommittee holds a hearing on mismanagement of contracts at Arlington National Cemetery on July 29, 2010 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
Scott Brown
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images

The House plans on voting on Speaker John Boehner's debt limit plan this evening, but with its demise imminent in the Senate, some Senate Republicans are considering getting behind Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's alternative plan.

"I voted for cut, cap, and balance,'" Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts said today, in reference to the House Republicans' initial debt limit plan. "I'll vote for Boehner, and I'll vote for Reid. I've already said that. We need to move our country forward. It's time."

Senate Democrats have promised to reject Boehner's plan, which would only extend the nation's borrowing authority for another six months. Democrats say it would be unwise to re-create the debate over the debt ceiling and deficit reduction again, just before Christmas.

Reid's plan would extend borrowing authority at least through 2012. Like Boehner's plan, it calls for significant spending cuts and doesn't make any tax increases. Both plans call for a bipartisan commission to come up with longer-term deficit and debt reduction plans.

Brown said his staff is working with Reid's staff to give the proposed commission more teeth, CBS News Capitol Hill Producer John Nolen reports.

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The moderate Republican also said he appreciated President Obama's "tone" today, when the president said from the White House that Congress must pass a bill that can get bipartisan support.

"I 'm looking forward to moving our country forward and having an opportunity to at least to vote on something," he said.

Reid plans to move his bill to the Senate floor tonight, after action on Boehner's bill is completed.

Coming out of a Republican conference meeting this afternoon, GOP Sen. John Thune also suggested Reid's bill could be modified to win some Republican support.

"I think there are some things that could be done to his bill to make it better, to make it more attractive to Republicans, and if we ever get to that point maybe we'll get the chance to do that," he said.

Like Brown, Thune said that the ideas put forward by the proposed bipartisan deficit reduction committee should be binding and enforceable. Thune also reiterated the GOP complaint that Reid's plan relies on some accounting gimmicks, such as counting money saved from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as deficit reduction. He said that most Republicans want the spending cuts to match or exceed the amount that the debt ceiling is raised, and Reid's plan doesn't accomplish that yet.

In spite of the GOP concerns, Thune said Democrats and Republicans should be able to work together.

"You don't want things to drag on forever," he said. "Most of us believe you just can't kick this can down the road."