Washington (CNN) - Sen. Dianne Feinstein said a deal to raise the debt ceiling is being held hostage by Republican politics, but that she can envision an agreement in the Senate to prevent default.
The California Democrat said on Sunday there are currently 39 senators who support the so-called “Gang of Six proposal” put forward by three Democrats and three Republicans that would include a combination of spending cuts and revenues to reduce mounting budget deficits and bring Republican support to raise the limit on how much money the government can borrow.
“It’s a big step forward for the Senate,” Feinstein said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “If that could be wrapped into a proposal that would provide the length of time to do it and do it carefully, I think you have an arrangement.”
She said Senate Democrats would probably accept “three parts cuts to one part revenues” in a deficit reduction deal, but would not accept $4 trillion in cuts with no additional revenues.
“We strongly believe that the wealthiest in our society should help with the crisis,” Feinstein told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. “It should be a fair share plan, not just the people who are poor and dependent on these programs. That’s not unreasonable.”
However, any agreement reached in the Democratic-controlled Senate would have to pass through the Republican-controlled House and vice versa before it reaches the president’s desk.
Talks are ongoing between President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and other congressional leaders to reach a deal after Boehner announced Friday he was withdrawing from direct negotiations with Obama. Republicans and Democrats involved in the talks expressed optimism they could avoid a default on U.S. obligations.
Feinstein said Republicans are attempting to take a “meat ax” to social programs that affect millions of her constituents, including Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. Cuts to those programs, she said need to be tackled with care so “it hurts people the very least.”
Yet she added that it is Republicans who have walked away from the table, first from negotiations with Vice President Joe Biden and then from talks with Obama.
“This is the first time in 19 years I feel that something that can be done very simply is being held hostage for a very high-stakes game,” Feinstein said.
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