Debt Talks Continue on the Hill as Leaders Move to ‘New’ Plan

By Dschabner

Jul 23, 2011 6:15pm

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports:

One day after the debt talks broke down between Speaker of the House John Boehner and President Obama, a new urgency –- and a new plan -– is weaving its way through Capitol Hill.

The four Congressional leaders — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi D-Calif., met with Obama in the Cabinet Room at the White House this morning.

Following the closed-door meeting, Congressional leaders took back to the Hill to work on a “new” plan and legislation in order to raise the nation’s debt ceiling before the Aug. 2 deadline for action.

“The president wanted to know that there was a plan for preventing national default,” McConnell said in a statement following the meeting. “The bipartisan leadership in Congress is committed to working on new legislation that will prevent default while substantially reducing Washington spending.”

After the meeting, Boehner held a members-only conference call with House Republicans to update them on the status of discussions and outlined the way he would like to see the debt negotiations proceed Sunday and Monday. Boehner continues to want to avoid having to use the Senate plan -– McConnell and Reid’s “last choice” option.

People familiar with the call say Boehner told the caucus he wants to be able to show signs of progress by Sunday afternoon. This would be in order to show a little stability and confidence in advance of the Asian markets opening Sunday afternoon, so as to not rattle the markets, something Congressional leaders are acutely aware of as negotiations continue forward this late in the game. Republican aides say the Speaker wants to have something to present to members by Monday.

The plan being discussed now is cuts between $3 trillion and $4 trillion, which aides say would need to come in a two-step process. 

Talks continue between members of the staffs of the four Congressional leaders. In the White House meeting today Obama asked the leaders to report back throughout the day with progress being made. Staff of the Congressional leaders have been meeting and talking today.

In the Speaker of the House's conference room the four Congressional leaders — Reid, McConnell, Boehner and Pelosi — huddled this evening.

“It’s not like we’re going to say anything,” Boehner said as he sat at the head of a long conference table. To his left was Pelosi. To his right sat Reid and McConnell.

The leaders took no questions -— despite repeated questions being shouted by reporters in the room on the status of the talks — including a reporter asking if there is anything he could say to reassure the public.

“Bye,” Boehner said indicating the end of the photo op. “Nice to see you all.”

“Over this weekend Congress will forge a responsible path forward,” Boehner said in a statement, “House and Senate leaders will be working to find a bipartisan solution to significantly reduce Washington spending and preserve the full faith and credit of the United States.”

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