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Dueling Budget, Debt Votes Set

Bill Clark/Roll Call
Vice President Joseph Biden, who is leading bipartisan talks to raise the debt ceiling, told reporters after a meeting with lawmakers Tuesday that the Obama administration would insist that revenue raisers be part of the discussion.

House and Senate leaders are setting themselves up to fail.

Senate Democrats have long been planning for this week’s political show vote designed to defeat the House Republican budget plan, and now the House GOP has its own show planned — a stand-alone debt ceiling vote as soon as next week with the express purpose of killing it.

Both sides are trying to score political points while maximizing their leverage in the bipartisan talks led by Vice President Joseph Biden. However, doubts remain as to whether that group can reach a long-term deal before the Aug. 2 deadline for raising the debt ceiling.

The Biden discussions continued Tuesday, with negotiators emerging after nearly three hours and saying they had made progress.

Biden predicted the group could “pretty quickly” agree to more than $1 trillion in deficit reduction as a down payment and discuss triggers that would achieve a total of $4 trillion.

However, Biden increased pressure on Republicans in the talks by insisting that revenues have to be a part of the deal. GOP leaders have said tax increases or any revenue raisers that look like tax hikes cannot be part of a final agreement.

“I made it clear today … revenues are gonna have to be in the deal, and everybody knows that at the end of the day, we’re going to have to make some really tough decisions on some of the big-ticket items,” he said.

But House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said, “The House will not support tax hikes.” He said he’s “confident” they can agree on at least $1 trillion in spending cuts.

The politically charged debt limit vote in the House is intended to show Senate Democrats and President Barack Obama how serious rank-and-file lawmakers are about the need to couple significant spending cuts with any debt ceiling increase.

Plus, Republicans are eager to vote against the debt limit hike, which is sure to split Democrats.

Some 114 House Democrats, led by Rep. Peter Welch (Vt.), have been urging Congress to take up a clean debt ceiling vote.

Senate Democrats are ripping the House plan to kill the debt limit hike as “irresponsible” — warning of consequences for the stock market and the world.

“I think it sends a terrible message to the international community,” Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) said Tuesday. “They are bringing up something that they know is going to fail.”

Of course, Reid is doing the same thing to the House-passed budget.

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