Washington (CNN) - The high stakes negotiations underway over raising the nation's debt ceiling are more important than the budget talks earlier this month that prevented a government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday. That's because the "full faith and credit" of the United States would be damaged for "generations to come" if the U.S. defaults on its debts, he said.
For that reason, the Democrat from Nevada said he is not "drawing any lines in the sand" about what must be included in a deal to raise the debt ceiling except to say it must "prove that we're willing to do something" about the ever-growing debt.
Most Republicans and many Democrats on Capitol Hill have vowed not to raise the borrowing limit unless it is tied to strict reforms to rein in spending and shrink the deficit.
Reid said he supports a "deficit cap" similar to one the White House recently proposed. It would trigger spending cuts "if by 2014, budget projections do not show that the debt-to-GDP ratio has stabilized and is declining in the second half of the decade," according to a White House summary.
Those spending cuts would not apply to entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid, something many Republicans might oppose.
Reid said the bipartisan Gang of Six senators negotiating debt issues is considering similar "triggering mechanisms" to ensure debt reductions.
Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Reid said the Senate will consider soon the controversial House-passed 2012 budget, which includes deep spending cuts and major changes to Medicare. Reid, who opposes the bill, says he wants to find out if Republicans in the Senate "are really supportive" of the House proposal.
Reid also said he would take up legislation shortly to remove federal tax breaks for major oil and gas companies at a time many are reporting high profits.