Michael Steel, spokesman for Boehner, was unfazed.
“The American people flatly reject Sen. Schumer’s call for a blank check for the Democrats who run Washington to keep their spending spree going,” Steel said. “There’s no way an increase in the debt limit will pass without real spending cuts and reforms.”
Boehner was set to propose Monday night that spending cuts exceed the size of debt ceiling increase. Considering it will take a roughly $2 trillion increase in the debt ceiling to get through the next election, Boehner’s position is likely to increase the pressure for major budget cuts.
Kyl said any deal will likely require immediate cuts as well as agreements on spending levels for the next several years at least. And he said Republicans have no interest in running out the clock on the debt limit. “I’m happy to do it as soon as we can do it,” he said.
With bipartisan talks limping along, Senate Democrats continued to negotiate among themselves.
Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) had hoped to hold a budget markup this week, but that timetable is now in doubt. He said Monday that the chances of holding a markup this week are low as he continues to talk to his colleagues and adjust his proposal after the Congressional Budget Office revised its baseline last week. Conrad also said that the White House’s decision to hold budget summits with Democrats on Wednesday and Republicans on Thursday could affect the markup.
Ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said he was concerned that the White House had scheduled a summit on the budget for this week, while Democrats still haven’t let the GOP see their proposal.
Conrad said that he is still pushing for a roughly $4 trillion cut in the deficit over the next decade and that he won’t sign on to a long-term debt limit increase without a credible long-term plan to deal with the debt. He said Congress may need to enact a short-term increase, perhaps until the end of the year, to buy time to negotiate a broad plan. “I think there may have to be in order to have a credible plan completed,” he said.
Conrad’s plan presents Reid with an extraordinarily tricky job of managing his shrunken Conference. That’s because if Conrad’s budget ever gets to the floor, it will be governed by Senate budget rules allowing unlimited amendments subject to a simple majority vote.
Getting 51 votes for the budget is likely to be an enormously challenging task. Three Senators in the 53-member Democratic caucus have already signed on to tougher spending caps than Conrad will propose, and liberals remain worried that Conrad’s budget starts off too far to the right as they enter negotiations with Republicans.
Reid last week cautioned his flock against signing on to any budget blueprint, including Conrad’s, until they had a better sense of the endgame negotiations with the GOP.
As Democrats dicker over their blueprint, conservative Senate Republicans appear set to take advantage of a quirk in Senate rules that allows anyone to propose a budget resolution and get a vote on a motion to proceed.
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