US Congress Works to Avoid Default

July 29, 2011

The U.S. Congress pushed ahead with competing proposals Friday in an effort to enable the U.S. government to pay all of its bills and avoid a default next week.

Senator Patty Murray

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, has put forth a plan to cut government spending by $2.5 trillion, while raising the legal limit on borrowing enough to fund the government through the end of 2012.

In the House of Representatives, Republicans are revising a plan by Speaker John Boehner to cut spending and to raise the $14.3 trillion borrowing limit. Boehner put off a Thursday vote on the measure because he had too few votes to pass it.

Both plans could come up for a vote late Friday.

On Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama said it is increasingly urgent that Democrats and Republicans in Congress agree on a measure to increase the legal limit on government borrowing, and cut spending. He said the two sides are in rough agreement on how much spending to cut, and on a process to reform taxes and reduce spending on social programs.

The U.S. will run out of money to pay its bills if the country's $14.3 trillion debt limit is not raised by Tuesday , which would push the government into default.

President Obama said Reid has put forward a plan that could be the basis for compromise, and added that the Senate's top Republican has offered useful ideas. The president criticized House Republicans for continuing work on Boehner's proposal, which Mr. Obama said could not become law.

Boehner's original plan would raise the borrowing limit in exchange for more than $900 billion in spending cuts over the next 10 years. It would also offer to raise the debt limit again in less than a year if Washington can work out additional spending cuts. Democrats oppose this provision of Boehner's plan because they say it would mean another round of divisive political wrangling.

Members of the conservative Tea Party faction of the Republican Party say Boehner's plan does not cut enough spending.

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