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. AmandaInTN

    Stop playing political games with peoples' lives. My husband fulfilled his duty to the military. We planned and carefully budgeted so that he could go to school using his GI Bill, but because of your crap, we might not have the money for tuition or our mortgage (paid for by the GI Bill housing allotment). Tell me again how much you love the troops? How much you honor those military members and their families that have sacrificed so much while you sit in your cushy offices and nitpick over who is going to look like the hero in your little measuring contest?

    Since you seem to be concerned with who will take the blame, I can already tell you: ALL OF YOU who have put your partisan garbage ahead of the people you are supposed to serve.

    July 27, 2011 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  2. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Keep listening to the Tea party and your Republican ship is sunk, but what can one expect when they listen to the stupidity of Palin. Aren't there any smart Republicans in Washington?

    July 27, 2011 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  3. carrotroot

    Instead of getting a $4 Trillion dollar bi-partisan bill which the President and Democrats would have signed off on, we are now getting an $850 Billion dollar GOP-only bill that has no chance of passing the Senate.

    July 27, 2011 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  4. Jerold

    I want to know why no one is talking about our amendment and law. That are passed to protect vetern and social security checks. If Obama breaks the constitution amendments and laws that protect those benefits from bein held when they are suppose to be sent out no matter what. Should he be arrested for breaking them? I say yes cuz no one is above the law not even the president

    July 27, 2011 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  5. Zeuss

    It's like a pistol duel, Dems vs. Teapublicans. However, the one who'll get shot if they fail and the US defaults is everyone. The US is a "house divided against itself" and we know what happens to such houses. Sad but true state of affairs in once-cooperative America.

    July 27, 2011 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  6. jim

    The politicians in Washington have ceased being "leaders" of all the people and are caught up in maintaining there own political power and that of their respective parties. Let's consider a Constitutional Amendment that would provide for members of the House and the Senate to be able to be subjected to "Recall Elections." Think about it! They would be much more likely to respond to the need wanna jump on board?

    July 27, 2011 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  7. DBravi

    We are all concerned with the budget,etc.I like to remind the nation that retired veterans, and Disabled veterens are also to get the shaft. Thank you America.

    July 27, 2011 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  8. john dahodi

    Looks like Boehner may not get enough votes to pass his deficit reduction plan even in the GOP majority Congress, only because he has cooked the worst plan hurriedly only to downgrade Obama in the public mind but if he fails, his own image will be distorted for ever in the mind of Republicans and Democrats. Better will be he tender his resignation and go for golf or fishing. He will get company of the baby Bush and of course Dick Cheney.

    July 27, 2011 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  9. B

    America has had it with the Political Games and will show these two Fools a new reality in 2012.

    July 27, 2011 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  10. Disappointed

    I'm sick of hearing the rich won't bunch! Our governement created this dept and now they need "We the People" to bail them out. How are "We the People" going to pay anything If "We the People" can't find work? If "We the People" have no incomes? It is sad to say but I guess we can all be like the guy who robbed a bank to get medical... Maybe the people in congress who won't come to an aggreement will be happier when they are paying for someone elses 3 meals a day, a roof over thier head, and all the medical, dental and vision "We the People" need. No one is willing to over throw our government so darn it... what's going to happen to "We the People"?

    July 27, 2011 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  11. Dan

    These faces are the result of voting for the Republicans to get back in power, in November 2010.
    How voters allowed themselves to be scammed so soon after voting them out in 2008, boggles the mind.

    July 27, 2011 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  12. Larry L

    Are you a mindless Tea Party whore or can you do the job you were elected to do? The market took a dive today and my life savings is going down the toilet – thanks to the Republican Party. Why would anybody invest in a country that's run by right-wing special interest groups? This crisis is showing the true colors of the Republican Party – lap dogs for the Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch.

    July 27, 2011 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  13. Malty

    Democrats have been sending the USA into oblivion for 4 years. Obama has made the problem much worse. It's time to listen to the group that is at least trying to be responsible.

    What do democrats have against a fiscally responsible government. Cut the spending and leave within your means.

    July 27, 2011 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  14. LacrosseMom(real one)

    The Teapublicans are warring among themselves! There is division in that party and America will SEE whom they really are!

    America, dear America, the Teapublicans (a.k.a. GOP) do not care about:

    Our children's educations
    The Working Class
    Union members
    The Military (except to send them to war!)
    The unemployed
    etc., etc.

    Teapublicans only care that the wealthy get richer, that Big Oil who is making billions keep their tax cuts; that the Teapublicans are happy.

    WAKE UP America, you are being lied to!

    July 27, 2011 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  15. anne krick

    The Republicans won't pass Reid's plan and the Democrats won't pass Boehner's plan. It seems as though neither wants the other side to get credit for anything good that might happen. Reid and Boehner need to get together by themselves and draft a Boehner-Reid plan so both sides can take credit - or blame. It's sad that this appears to be more about politics than what is good for the country.

    July 27, 2011 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  16. blf83

    THank you Mr. Boehner and your Tea Party "friends" to whom you sold your soul. My 403b dropped 25k today due to your take-no-prisoners, uncompromising head in the sand.

    July 27, 2011 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  17. LegendRx

    Take a good look america, the games they are playing with our lives. Trying to wait until the very last moment to out due the other. How childish is this. Obama . . . the only adult in the room. Obama 2012. Republican are history . . . period!

    July 27, 2011 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  18. kim

    Republicans really need to wake up and smell the coffee. Their Party has been taken over by corporate raiders and they only represent 2% of the population. This Republican party no longer represents most Republicans. Why can't they figure that out? It's very obvious to Party outsiders. These Republicans are working for their billionaire buddies, not the American people. It's a complete myth that tax breaks for the wealthy create jobs. Maybe it was that way 50 years ago but it's a new world now.

    July 27, 2011 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  19. Elisabeth

    Yes. Vote on the gang of six plan.

    July 27, 2011 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  20. terrance

    By the mouth of the righteous the city is exalted by the mouth of the wicked it brought down. I think proverbs in the bible says something along those lines. The democrats are the party of righteousness and the rubs (republicans) are the party of wickedness.

    July 27, 2011 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    No matter what the Republican say, the House is constitutionally committed to instruct the Treasury how to pay the nations debts. Even if the House passes a "take or leave it" bill at the last minute, that are responsible for seeing to it that it passes. The Constitution reads that the President can negotiate the differences between House and Senate. It also reads that the President is committed to uphold the Constitution, which means a "take it or leave it" bill will result in a stalemate that forces the President to do as he sees fit to resolve the crisis, take it or eat it.

    July 27, 2011 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  22. Joeinalabama

    The repubs need to get it together and pass a bill with needed cuts and send it to the Senate, they may scream and cry, but they will pass it and the pres will sign it, because the Demos want more money to spend

    July 27, 2011 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  23. Alfred Cadotte

    Our budget has gotten out of hand. There are too many people and organizations who are collect millions for no good reason. The US is handing out money to countries all over the world. Look at the money that has been given to Pakistan and they were harboring the most wanted terrorist in the world. Our self serving politicians continue to collect their salary after serving one term. Their benefits are far superior to the average American worker. Our politicians have raided social security over the years now they are wanting to lower the payments to the people who have paid into it all their working lives. There are too many people collecting social security who have not paid into the system.The people in Washington don't seem to realize that we cannot continue to spend this way. It is obvious that too many of our leaders cannot manage their own business but continue to try and manage our countries business. We need for all this to stop because our country is on the way to becoming a third world country sooner than people realize.

    July 27, 2011 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  24. terrance

    This is simply about whose policy should be used not about solving a real issue. Republicans wants America to believe and follow their fuzzy politics and numbers. They can't admit that they are the party of America's racist and do want to follow politics and policy of an African American democrat president. Democrats have already solved the budget problems in the mid 90s.

    July 27, 2011 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  25. Sir Joe

    Americans stand and stop this goons from destroying what has been built over the years, the dollar should remain the standard currency in the world. America can not default on his debts.

    July 27, 2011 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
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