With Senate in Session Now ‘Continuously,’ New Warnings On Debt Default

Jul 18, 2011 3:46pm

ABC News' Sunlen Miller (@sunlenmiller) reports:

 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told the Senate today that they will remain in session “continuously” every day until Congress passes legislation that prevents a default in raising the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. 

“The Senate has no more important task than making sure the United States continues to pay our bills and preexisting obligations like social security,” Reid said on the Senate floor, “and because of that, we're going to stay in session every day, including Saturdays and Sundays, until Congress passes legislation that prevents the United States from defaulting on our obligations.”

Reid said that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., understands the “necessity” of the Senate being in during this time. Reid has a phone call scheduled with President Obama later today as well.

With him today, Reid brought a new sense of urgency, on the Senate floor as to what a default would mean if something was not passed before the August 2 deadline for action.

“The federal government would, in effect, go dark,” Reid warned, “Literally every function of government could cease. Social security checks, payments to our veterans. We’ve heard that before. There would be no discussion of which operations and personnel were essential. All the payments would very likely stop.”

Put simply Reid concluded, “default would be a plague that could haunt and would haunt our nation for years to come.”

Reid said the 2008 financial crisis would look like a “quaint little crisis” of what could happen if the nation defaulted come August 2.

“It would be a catastrophe. Secretary Geithner also said we're running out of time to avoid this iceberg, this huge iceberg….is in the ocean and our ship of state is headed toward it.”  

McConnell increased his rhetoric, calling this week a “pivotal week for America.”

He vouched again for the Republicans’ Cut, Cap, Balance plan, which the House will vote on Tuesday. Afterwards the plan will get sent to the Senate, where it as of now does not have the votes to pass.

“We've decided to bring our case to the American people, and that's why this week Republicans in the House and in the Senate will push for legislation that would cut government spending now, cap it in the future, and which only raises the debt limit if it's accompanied by a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget.”

McConnell said the Cut, Cap and Balance Pledge may be the “only option” that the debt limit will be raised at all.

“The White House has called for a balanced approach in this debate,” McConnell said, “Well, a bill that actually balances our books is coming to the senate floor this very week. I strongly urge my democratic friends to join us in supporting it.”

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