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Worried and Waiting on the Hill

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Rep. Mike Pompeo and other Republicans assailed President Barack Obama on Thursday for what they called his “scare tactic” of saying that Social Security and Medicare payments could be affected if the nation defaults on its debt.

Similarly, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees ramped up a major push against a proposed balanced budget amendment to the Constitution that some House Republicans want to tie to the debt ceiling package. The amendment, which is expected to require a supermajority to raise taxes and force Congress to cut spending to balance the budget, is likely to move to the House floor next week.

Others on Capitol Hill opted to address other issues altogether. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.) held a news conference highlighting a policy and funding struggle over the future of manned space travel.

On the other side of the Capitol, GOP Reps. Richard Hanna (N.Y.) and Joe Barton (Texas) and Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle (Pa.) touted the National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act, which would mark the 75th anniversary of the Cooperstown, N.Y., museum and shrine. Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro joined the trio for the event, which was attended by a handful of baseball junkies and Cooperstown natives.

Even Thursday afternoon’s main debt limit event, the fifth consecutive meeting at the White House between Obama and Congressional leaders, was not expected to result in much progress.

“I do not expect today a hallelujah moment,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Steven T. Dennis and Jessica Brady contributed to this report.

Correction: July 15, 2011

An earlier version of this story misidentified the Member who said, “You have a ‘scarer in chief’ who goes out and frightens seniors with wrong information.” It was Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).

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