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Saturday, July 16, 2011

GOP leaders ignore Obama’s 36-hour deadline for a debt plan



By Alexander Bolton 07/16/11 01:35 PM ET
House Republican leaders have missed a 36-hour deadline President Obama set during a Thursday meeting for lawmakers to give him a plan to avert a national default.
The deadline came and went Saturday morning without a response from House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
Instead, Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) plan to move the Cut, Cap and Balance Act on the floor next week, which would require passage of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution before the debt limit is raised.
A House GOP leadership aide said at noontime Saturday that Boehner and Cantor did not send Obama a revised proposal to raise the debt-limit, as the president requested.
A White House official said talks continue despite the missed deadline. 
"The president, vice president and staff have been in frequent communication with leaders and staff in both chambers and parties, discussing various options," said the official.
At a meeting late Thursday afternoon, Obama gave congressional leaders 24 to 36 hours to meet with their colleagues to figure out a plan that could pass both chambers.
“It’s decision time,” Obama said.
Ignoring Obama’s directive, Republican leaders are coalescing around the Cut, Cap and Balance bill that is expected to pass the House but has virtually no chance in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
The legislation would cut $111 billion in fiscal year 2012, cap spending at 18 percent of gross domestic product by 2021 and would authorize a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt limit after Congress passes a balanced budget amendment.
House Republicans discussed it at a special conference meeting Friday morning and plan to put it on the floor next week.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is pushing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to schedule votes on the Cut, Cap and Balance bill and a balanced budget amendment in the upper chamber next week.
A Senate Democratic aide said it’s likely that at least one of those Republican priorities will receive floor time next week because it would clear the way for passage of a last-ditch contingency plan later this month.
The contingency plan, proposed by McConnell, has become more politically viable as negotiations between Obama and congressional leaders have broken down.
No meetings of the leadership group have been announced this weekend and at least two negotiators are out of town. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has flown back to Illinois and McConnell is in Kentucky.
This story was updated at 2:30 p.m.

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