Reid plans quick vote and defeat of Boehner debt plan

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., right, joined by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday,July 27, 2011, to discuss the conflicting plans to deal with the debt crisis.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

House Speaker John Boehner's plan to raise the debt limit and reduce the deficit will be quickly defeated tonight, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today.

The Republican-led House will vote on Boehner's plan in the late afternoon. It's unclear whether the speaker will have enough support in his caucus to pass the measure, which would increase the U.S. borrowing limit by up to $900 billion while cutting more than $900 billion in spending over the next decade.

With one Democrat out for health reasons today, Boehner needs 216 votes to pass his bill and can afford to lose 24 Republicans. In the early afternoon, CBS News tallied at least 17 Republicans who will vote against it and nine who are leaning against it. Fifty were undecided.

If the bill does pass, Reid said today he would take it to the Senate floor for a vote immediately -- where the Democratic majority will reject it.

"It will be defeated," Reid said on the Senate floor. "No Democrat will vote for a short-term Band-Aid that would put our economy at risk and put the nation back in this untenable situation a few short months from now."

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The Senate Democratic caucus sent a letter to House Republicans Wednesday night informing them that all 51 Senate Democrats and two Democratic-voting independents are prepared to vote against the plan. Reid has put forward his own plan, which could cut around $2 trillion in debt and raise the debt ceiling at least through the end of 2012, but it's unclear if or when the Senate will vote on it.

Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said that Boehner is "busy twisting arms" to get his bill passed, but the effort will be futile.

"The idea that we will take Boehner's bill and pass it, or take Boehner's bill and tweak it and pass it is not what is going to happen," he said. "Throwing a hot potato over to us that won't pass just delays things a day, and we are simply four days away from one of the worst financial catastrophes that could face this country."

The White House and others have warned that if Congress doesn't raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by Aug. 2, the U.S. will lose its authority to borrow money and risk defaulting on its loans or failing to pay other significant financial obligations.

In a press conference today, Boehner called his bill "a sincere, honest effort to end this crisis in a bipartisan way."

"When the House takes action today, the United States Senate will have no more excuses for inaction," he said.

While Boehner says his plan is bipartisan, even the five House Democrats who earlier voted for the more-conservative "cut, cap and balance" plan are going to vote against this latest effort, Democratic aides confirm to CBS Capitol Hill Producer Jill Jackson.

Additionally, a group of moderate House Democrats today sent a letter to Boehner and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi saying that this Congress should only take one vote to raise the debt limit -- rather than the multiple votes Boehner's plan would entail.

The group of moderates also addressed the proposal to create a bipartisan deficit commission to come up with more ideas for reducing the nation's deficit and debt. Both Boehner's and Reid's plan suggest creating such a commission. The letter said the proposed commission should create "specific and comprehensive legislation" and put "everything on the table."

The Democrats, however, also expressed concern about voting for the creation of the deficit commission without knowing who would be on it. They said appointees to the commission should be open to a "balanced approach," which they said was reflected in the deficit reduction plan created by the so-called "gang of six" senators.

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