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Democratic Leaders Positive on McConnell Plan

Tom Williams/Roll Call

Key Democrats on Wednesday had good things to say about a plan by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) to avoid a default on U.S. debts.

McConnell has taken some heat from conservatives for his “last-chance” outline that would let President Barack Obama raise the debt ceiling and allow Congress to express its will through a resolution of disapproval. But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) said the proposal has provided a turning point in the debate over raising the debt limit, which has remained stuck over the issue of increased tax revenue.

“What Leader McConnell has put on the table recognizes that we must pass” a debt increase, Pelosi said. “So it has that merit in that it says what are we talking about here: We have to pass this. And let’s talk about the others things that are going on.”

Pelosi also cast aside concerns that the talks are floundering.

“I don’t see it that way. Perhaps to an inexperienced eye that might be the case, but what I see it as is an elimination of some possibilities. And that’s progress,” she said.

Pelosi added: “I think that the president has led the discussion in a values-based way with specific knowledge of what is possible and is eliminating some paths to focus on others, and that is what I would call progress.”

Earlier in the day, Reid had kind things to say about McConnell’s efforts as well.

“I am glad to hear that the Republican leader has come forward with a backstop proposal to address the debt limit. I am still studying it and discussing it with Senators. But I am heartened by what I read. This is a serious proposal. And I commend the Republican leader for coming forward,” Reid said.

The Nevada Democrat also said that he and McConnell had been in one-on-one discussions that might be taking place outside the purview of the now daily White House-led talks.

“I believe that the Republican leader’s proposal, combined with ideas he and I have been discussing to force a vote on deficit reduction proposals, could go a long way toward resolving the impasse in which we find ourselves” Reid said.

Emily Pierce contributed to this report.

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