Senate Defeats Reid Plan; Leaders Work to Finalize Deal Today

By John R Parkinson

Jul 31, 2011 3:01pm

ABC News’ John R. Parkinson (@JRPabcDC) reports: 

After the Senate voted this afternoon to defeat Majority Leader Harry Reid’s plan to increase the debt limit, Congressional leaders and staff are continuing to work out the final details of a bipartisan agreement to raise the debt ceiling that can pass through Congress before a lurking financial crisis is fully upon the country. 

The Senate voted largely down party lines to block legislation proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., that would raise the debt limit by $2.4 trillion and cut spending by $2.4 trillion. The House voted Saturday afternoon to defeat legislation crafted after the Reid bill's language.

The cloture vote to end a GOP filibuster failed 50-49 and required 60 votes to pass. Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts was the only Senate Republican to vote with the Democrats. 

Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Independent Bernie Sanders voted against Reid's plan, as did the majority leader in a procedural move that gives him the capability to bring the measure back to the floor at some point and amend it. 

One member of the Senate Republican leadership, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, said he expected the Senate to first vote on the potential deal, although he was uncertain how soon a vote could happen, but “the discussions, the deliberations are continuing to try to finalize the deal – the details of an agreement.” 

“I don’t think we’re going to vote on it today. I’d be surprised because they don’t have anything ready to go yet. It sounds like the agreement’s still being discussed, finalized,” Barrasso said. “We’ll wait for an email from the Leader and we’ll be available when he’s ready to brief us probably, when they have more information.” 

The Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin, said that a deal is “in the works” and added that he has “a much more positive feeling than I did 24 hours ago” although “there’s still major elements to be resolved.” 

“There are active negotiations and we are being presented with ideas that are being floated and asked for reaction. There’s a good exchange going on between the negotiators and the leaders,” Durbin, D-Illinois, said as he explained his newfound optimism. “Negotiators will call Harry and say, all right, here’s an idea, what’s your reaction?” 

But afternoon briefings with the Senate Democratic and Republican leadership with their respective caucuses were both delayed this afternoon, as was a conference call that House Speaker John Boehner had planned to hold with rank and file House Republicans. 

Leaders in both Houses of Congress say a deal is not final until the rank and file of both parties has an opportunity to review the legislation. 

“At the end of the day, the president has given Harry and Nancy his assurance that nothing will be agreed to until they agree with it,” Durbin said. “Although McConnell and Boehner may be directly involved, in the end we’re going to be party to the final decision.” 

Durbin said that the Senate Democrats’ primary goal has been to extend the debt ceiling through February 2013, and that the negotiations are hung up over what happens if a select joint committee on deficit reduction does not come up with a solution. 

“We’re not using the debt ceiling as the trigger. That what was this whole debate this last week has been about. We will not let the debt ceiling be the trigger,” Durbin said. “What we have been debating is when the joint committee reports, which we’re hoping will be before the end of the year, that if there is no agreement on their work product, what will happen. That has been the whole conversation — the so-called triggering. What’s hanging over the head of the committee if they don’t agree and what’s hanging over Congress if we don’t agree with their findings.”

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