Without a single Democratic vote, the Republican-controlled House passed on Friday night a bill offered by Speaker John Boehner to raise the debt ceiling in two stages, with the second stage of the increase contingent on passage of a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. The vote was 218-210. But the Senate quickly voted, 59-41, to defeat the measure.

Even though Boehner’s bill was considered “dead on arrival” in the Senate, it was hoped in some quarters that it would open the way to negotiations on a Senate measure that could become the mechanism for raising the debt ceiling. The thought was that with some revisions a bill could be crafted that could be approved by the House, even if it did not have the support of Republicans aligned with the Tea Party Movement. But that hope came to an abrupt end.

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said on MSNBC on Friday night that a solution in the Senate is by no means a sure thing. The Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), has said that he will not negotiate with the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and that he will negotiate only with President Obama, according to Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. Further, McConnell has indicated that the Republicans intend to filibuster, which would push the earliest time the Senate could vote right up against the deadline of Aug. 2, the date that the United States is projected to go into default.

The Boehner plan, revised from an earlier proposal that failed to gain enough support for passage, calls for raising the debt limit by $900 billion and for cutting spending by $917 billion. That is projected take the government through February or March.

The second stage would authorize the president to raise the debt limit by an additional $1.6 trillion if a bipartisan committee of 12 lawmakers could identify $1.8 trillion in cuts before the end of the year and if Congress sends a balanced-budget amendment to the states for ratification.

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  • Diane Vacca July 31, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Bringing Obama down is the number priority for the Republican party. McConnell has said so. And if they have to bring down the U.S. economy with the president, well, you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs seems to be their rationale. If we default, the economy will probably crash, unemployment will definitely rise and Obama will have a hard time being re-elected.

  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. July 30, 2011 at 10:41 am

    If there is anyone in charge of the insanity in Washington as we loom closer to a world shaking financial crisis that could alter the hopes of the struggling lower and middle class Americans forever, I fear that it is Mitch McConnell. He is the likely puppet master behind poor Boehner. McConnell knows that he will never be President but he can spoil the Presidency of Mr. Obama.