Both the House and Senate returned for a Saturday session today to continue the debate over a plan to raise the debt ceiling. Both bodies debated a plan offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), which would last through 2012 and cut about $2.4 trillion in federal spending.
The House considered it under a special rule where a 2/3 majority was required for passage, and it failed to meet that requirement, by a count of 246-173. In the Senate the first procedural vote to clear the 60-vote filibuster hurdle will occur Sunday afternoon at 1pm ET.
Off the floor, negotiations continued as leaders tried to come up with a bill that would satisfy members across the political spectrum. Sen. Reid said late in the day on the Senate floor that talks with the White House were "going on" but that "there are many elements to be finalized…there is still a distance to go."
Late Friday, the U.S. House passed its version of a bill to raise the debt ceiling, crafted by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). The final vote was 218 to 210. 22 Republicans voted against it, and no Democrats voted in favor of the plan. Republicans who voted against the bill were: (Freshman members are in bold): Amash (MI), Bachmann (MN), Broun (GA), Chaffetz (UT), Cravaack (MN), DesJarlais (TN), Duncan (SC), Graves (GA), Gowdy (SC), Huelskamp (KS), Johnson (IL), Jordan (OH), King (IA), Latham (IA), Connie Mack (FL), McClintock (CA), Mulvaney (SC), Ron Paul (TX), Tim Scott (SC), Southerland (FL), Walsh (IL), Wilson (SC).
Within minutes of that vote, Sen. Reid brought the House bill up on the Senate floor, and moved to table, or discard, the plan. The vote was 59-41 to table, with 6 Republicans joining 51 Democrats and 2 Independents in voting against the Boehner proposal. Republicans voting to table were: DeMint (SC), Graham (SC), Hatch (UT), Lee (UT), Paul (KY), and Vitter (LA).
The White House issued a statement on Friday night saying Congressional leaders must "start working together immediately to reach a compromise that avoids default and lays the basis for balanced deficit reduction." The President says Sen. Reid's proposal is "a basis for that compromise, (and passage of an agreement) removes the uncertainty surrounding the risk of default."
No agreement between Republicans and Democrats and the House and Senate means the path forward is still uncertain with the August 2nd deadline imposed by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner fast approaching.
House Democrats encouraged the President to invoke the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution to unilaterally lift the debt ceiling without Congressional authorization. The White House continues to reject that option.