US Congress Set To Vote On Debt Issue

Posted July 28th, 2011 at 1:40 pm (UTC-5)
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The U.S. House of Representatives is to vote Thursday on a plan by Republican House Speaker John Boehner to raise the debt ceiling and cut spending.

Boehner's plan has attracted criticism from the ultra-conservative Tea Party faction of the Republican party, and opposition from Democrats. Conservatives say it cuts too little spending, Democrats complain Boehner's plan would bring the issue back again before the next election.

If Boehner's plan passes the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he will immediately bring the measure to a vote in the Senate. Reid says the Senate's Democratic majority will kill the bill.

Reid advocates a rival plan that he calls a compromise that incorporates many Republican goals. He says it would raise the debt limit, cut spending by $2.5 trillion, and abandon efforts to raise taxes.

White House spokesman Jay Carney says U.S. President Barack Obama is optimistic that a compromise can be reached before an August 2 deadline. Carney says a successful compromise would significantly cut spending, set up a way to reform taxes and control spending on social programs, and lift the debt ceiling.

Without an agreement on some kind of plan to raise the $14.3 trillion legal limit on borrowing by the deadline, the U.S. Treasury Department says it will not have enough money to pay all its bills. That could bring a default that would likely prompt rating agencies to cut the credit rating of the United States, bringing higher interest rates and hurting economic growth.