Leaders seek debt deal before Asian markets open

July 24, 2011 - 5:13 AM
APTOPIX Debt Showdown

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., whispers to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, during a photo opportunity in the House Speaker's office before a meeting on the debt limit increase on Capitol Hill in Washington on Saturday, July 23, 2011. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional leaders planned to work on a fiercely hot Sunday in Washington to try to reach a bipartisan accord to avert a debt-ceiling crisis on Aug. 2.

Aides will be darting in and out of meetings in the usually empty Capitol. Top leaders of the House and Senate will be conferring as well. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he wants to announce the outlines of a plan by 4 p.m. EDT Sunday, to assure investors of the nation's financial and political stability before Asian stock markets open Monday.

Boehner met Saturday with President Barack Obama to try again to find a balance of major spending cuts and revenue increases that could win passage in the GOP-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate. Also at the meeting were Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and White House budget director Jack Lew.

The four lawmakers met later in the Capitol, without Obama or his aides. Boehner is seeking as much as $4 trillion in cuts over a decade as a condition for raising the nation's debt limit. Reid accuses GOP leaders of intransigence, suggesting the two sides still have sharp differences.

Despite the looming deadline, White House and congressional officials said several proposals were still being discussed. A "grand bargain" would cut spending by up to $4 trillion over a decade and raise up to $1.2 trillion in new revenues. Other plans envision smaller revenue increases and spending cuts of $1.2 trillion or so.

All the proposals face a basic obstacle. Many House Republicans refuse to vote for higher tax revenues; most congressional Democrats consider higher revenues essential if government spending is to be cut so deeply.

Obama, Reid and Pelosi have said they will not support a proposal that does not solve the debt-ceiling problem at least through 2012. Both parties scheduled top officials to appear on the Sunday TV news shows.