President Barack Obama on Friday urged a bipartisan agreement on raising the debt ceiling, saying that the plan before the House, which later passed Friday night, 218-210, was the uncompromising view of a single faction and “has no chance of becoming law.”
The Senate followed quickly Friday night, voting to reject the House debt-ceiling plan. The Senate voted, 59-41, to table the House plan, which included some Republican votes. Negotiations on a new plan began in earnest.
Obama implored Democrats and Republicans to come up with a plan that he could sign on Tuesday, the deadline for default on U.S. debt. “Raising the debt ceiling simply gives our country the ability to pay bills we already have racked up,” he said. “It gives the United States of America the ability to keep its word.”
In a terse and unscripted five-minute message given before the White House press, Obama said the current House version “would force us to relive this crisis in just a few short months.” He pushed for what he considerd to be more workable plans now on offer by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
The President repeated his administration’s warning that the government would run out of borrowing capacity on Tuesday. The White House has asked for a $2.4 trillion increase above the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling to cover government obligations into 2013.
House Speaker John Boehner managed to round up the necessary votes Friday night after being forced to delay a vote Thursday night on his debt-limit bill because he did not have enough Republican support to pass it.
McConnell, who spoke Thursday on the Senate floor, accused Democrats of refusing to agree to the House bill purely for political reasons.
Saying the House plan is “the only piece of legislation that has any chance of preventing all this from happening,” McConnell asserted that Democratic leaders and the President endorse every feature of the House legislation except the one that would allow Obama to avoid another national debate about spending and debt until after the next presidential election.