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Senate Libya Vote Sidelined for Debt Rhetoric

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Reid noted that he was "confident everyone knows the White House is involved" in the ongoing talks and meetings regarding a budget agreement necessary to pass an extension of the nation's debt limit. Obama announced Tuesday that he had invited Congressional leaders from both parties to the White House for another meeting on the issue Thursday, with the intention of working out a final agreement to raise the debt ceiling and reduce the deficit in the next two weeks. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president does not plan to accept an earlier invitation from Reid to meet Wednesday with Senate Democrats. "Thursday is the next meeting we anticipate," Carney said.

The Majority Leader’s statements on the floor Tuesday evening marked the end of a chaotic day, which began with Democratic leadership aides confident that they had the votes to stave off a filibuster on the Libya resolution.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), for example, was a chief co-sponsor of the measure with Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.), and Democrats were confident they would keep a core group of GOP supporters who have been ardent in their stance on the war.

But as the day wore on, Republican Senators such as Corker, Libya detractor Dick Lugar (Ind.) and Budget ranking member Jeff Sessions (Ala.) spoke out against moving to the resolution, and the GOP appeared to pick up momentum for scuttling the vote in favor of highlighting its desire for debate on the debt limit.

After some scrambling, Democrats began conceding that they wouldn’t have the votes Tuesday to pass the resolution.

Republicans and Democrats alike are still confident they can do what the House couldn’t — pass legislation authorizing military action in Libya, even though the White House has said it doesn’t believe such authorization is necessary.

“The majority of Senators understandably prefers to focus on [the budget] issue this week, and therefore, consideration of the resolution authorizing force in Libya has been delayed,” McCain said in a statement. “I believe the Senate has a responsibility to debate the ongoing conflict in Libya, and it is my hope that we will address this issue as early as next week.”

Congress faces an Aug. 2 deadline to raise the government’s borrowing capacity, or the country risks default on its obligations.

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