Debt deadlock: Behind the scenes
July 27th, 2011
10:45 PM ET
11 years ago

Debt deadlock: Behind the scenes

Washington (CNN) – There is a growing sense among Democratic and Republican Senate leadership aides that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will be able to get enough votes to get his deficit reduction and debt ceiling increase bill passed. And if that happens, says a Senate GOP leadership aide, "the psychology changes overnight."

Republicans argue that a House-passed Boehner plan would then put the onus on Democrats. "If you filibuster Boehner, you filibuster us into default," says one GOP aide. The Democrats see it differently: "Whoever blocks the last thing is the culprit," says a Democratic leadership aide. "And Boehner won't be the last thing."

Right now-as the legislative process continues-there are ongoing backchannel discussions between various congressional leaders hashing out possible avenues to a compromise bill, sources familiar with the talks told CNN. Obviously, the Democrats do not want a second vote on a debt ceiling increase before the election. But there's another concern: the proposed deficit commission. What if it ends in stalemate? What if Republicans appoint no-taxers to the groups. "We could be forced into all-cuts approach and that would be a trap," says one Democratic aide.

Sources close to the negotiations tell CNN that Vice President Joe Biden is very much in the mix of the backchannel conversations that are occurring on a possible fallback position.
"There is no secret deal waiting in the wings," one of the sources says. "But there are talks with everyone at the moment."

As for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, he, too is engaged in trying to figure out a way forward if neither of the current bills being considered can get enough support to get through both chambers.

McConnell has said he supports the bill pushed by House Speaker John Boehner, but some sources have said if that plan cannot get through the Senate McConnell will be a key person in trying to forge a compromise plan.

One source close to McConnell says he talks with Biden "from time to time," but cautions that "they're not negotiating or working on a deal."

In other words, the source says "they communicate," but "they're not in talks."

Democrats are about to engage in a public call for McConnell to intervene to help find a consensus.

In the Senate a compromise could possibly be attached to or be substituted for the Boehner bill if it does pass the House.

"We need McConnell to step up and give the big boy talk to the Republicans," says the Democratic source. Get ready to hear a lot of that from Democrats soon.

McConnell, by nature, seems to relish that role. "We are going to have to get back together and get a solution here. We cannot get a perfect solution, from my point of view, controlling only the House of Representatives. So I am prepared to accept something less than perfect because perfect is not achievable," McConnell told reporters Tuesday.

One idea Democrats are talking about – as a way to circumvent their problems with a commission – is to propose, if this special panel doesn't produce a deficit reduction package, then there would be an automatic vote on the so-called "Gang of Six" bipartisan $3.7 trillion plan, the Democratic source told CNN. That outline includes major spending cuts, entitlement reforms and revenue increases. It's the Democratic insurance policy that revenues would be part of any solution.

CNN's Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.

Filed under: Debt • Deficit • John Boehner • Mitch McConnell
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Viet.Vet

    Cut,Cap and Dodge repackage with the same smoke and mirrors in a vail attempt to shift blame for the incompentence of the Repugs whos sole agenda is to destroy President Obama and if the poor, middle class and Ameirica's credit rating is destroyed, so be it, we will just blame Obama.The ignorant few will drink this koolaide. They again beleive that the Majority of Americans are ignorant. They are in for a rude awakening in 2012.

    July 27, 2011 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  2. allens

    all of these politicians should do the right thing and quit. they let the peolple down and are dragging this country down.

    July 27, 2011 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  3. Cle Mong

    I would like ro thank both houses of Congress for doing the job each of you were elected by your home state to do.. We knew of your political party before we elected each of you into office. Please keep of the good work, and I am sure Congress will continue to show the World that America is the Greatest Country in the world. I am proud that Independents, Tea Party, Democrats, Republicans, and a wide range of culture groups are all part of Congress.

    Mr. Obama was elected as the leader of America, but has failed. He remains bias towards political polls that feeds his ego to the detriment of the majority of Americans that elected him President of the United States. Mr. Obama should resign and let Mr. Biden take charge of America.

    July 27, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  4. CBR

    The photos tell the while story. There is no place for these politicians to hide. They have to come through with a reasonable plan that lasts more than one year. How many times do we have to go through crisis after crisis before Congress and the White House can get together and move forward.

    Senator McConnell needs to stop announcing his plan to make Barack Obama a one-term president. The country needs decisions now and not when this Senator would like -January 2013. We are in the here and now and this man refuses to do what is necessary to move the country forward. The Republicans seem to be perfectly accepting of his ideas.It is shameful and black mark on this Senator's record.

    July 27, 2011 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  5. Lynn Hearn

    I'm probably repeating what others have said but this whole thing is about reelection, not about the deficit. The politicians work for one goal and nothing else, reelection. Until there are term limits or the voters have the courage to vote them out of office this will continue. It's a government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich and will not change until the voters come to the booth but it seems they are too lazy to do so.

    July 27, 2011 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  6. Rick

    The Republicans have no interest in the economy getting better before November 2012 and will do everything possible towards that end, regardless of the effect on the American people. They should all be charged with treason. There is one question that I want someone answer for me: the Republicans say raising taxes on the upper 1% of Americans and on corporations is bad because they create jobs. Well, taxes have not been raised for years so why do we have unemployment? That theory has never worked and never will. The only reason the Republicans oppose raising taxes is because they don't want the economy to improve.

    July 27, 2011 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
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