ABC News’ John R. Parkinson (@JRPabcDC) reports:
Moments after the House of Representatives voted to reject Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s plan to increase the debt limit, Congress’s top-two ranking Republicans say President Obama must now enumerate a legislative solution to the looming financial crisis that he will sign into law.
“It’s time for the president to tell us what he’s for,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said at a joint news conference with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “It’s time for the president to outline how do we get out of this cul-de-sac that he’s driven us into.”
“We all know that if the president decides to reach agreement with us, the Democrats – most of them – will fall in line,” McConnell, R-Kentucky, added. “He is leader of the Democratic Party. He is the president of the United States. He needs to indicate what he will sign and we are in those discussions now.”
Although the Senate will not vote on the Reid proposal until early Sunday morning, Boehner said that this afternoon’s vote in the House “indicates there’s bipartisan opposition to Senator Reid’s proposal.” Boehner also said that Congress could have passed the Boehner plan last week but “the only thing standing in way of the House proposal over in the Senate is the president and Senator Reid.”
“There was a bipartisan agreement between myself and the Senate leaders to move the underlying bill that we moved through the House yesterday, and the president – all he had to do was say yes and that bill would have moved quickly through both the House and the Senate,” Boehner said. “We’ve wasted a week that we didn’t need to waste. Now we’ve been driven into this cul-de-sac. It’s time for the president to decide how we’re going to get out of it.”
McConnell also predicted that a vote on the Reid plan will fail early Sunday morning, and he revealed that he had spoken to both the president and the vice president Saturday afternoon to begin the process of finalizing an agreement.
“We’re are now fully engaged, the Speaker and I, with the one person in America out of 307 million people who can sign a bill into law,” McConnell said. “We know the Reid proposal will not pass the Senate, we know it will not pass the House and my view is we ought to end that charade and get serious.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Reid went to the White House Saturday afternoon to huddle with the president on a game plan moving forward over the next few days.
Earlier Saturday, the House of Representatives voted 173-246 to defeat Reid’s version of a plan to increase the debt limit by $2.4 trillion along with $2.4 trillion in cuts. No Republicans voted in favor of the legislation while 11 House Democrats voted against it. The bill required a two-thirds majority to pass because it was moved to the floor under the rules of suspension.
The House adjourned shortly after the vote at 3:16pm and will be in a pro forma session Sunday with no votes expected.
Still, the two GOP leaders did their best to assure the public that the deadline will not pass without a deal to raise the debt ceiling in place.
“In spite of our differences, I think we’re dealing with reasonable, responsible people who want this crisis to end as quickly as possible, and I think we will,” Boehner said. “I’m not going to put any deadlines, but I think it’s pretty clear – should be clear to all of you, that Senator McConnell and I believe that we’re going to be able to come to some agreement to end this crisis as soon as possible.”
McConnell all but guaranteed that the leaders would be able to put together the votes to pass an agreement before the Treasury Department’s deadline next Tuesday.
“Our country is not going to default for the first time in history. That is not going to happen,” McConnell promised. “We now have I think a level of seriousness with the right people at the table that we needed and thought we had, as the speaker indicated, last weekend. We’re going to get results.”