- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 31, 2011

President Obama and congressional leaders late Sunday said they’ve settled on the outlines of a deal to raise the government’s borrowing limit, and will pitch the deal to their colleagues Monday to try to tamp down burgeoning rebellions among both Democrats and Republicans.

“This process has been messy. It’s taken far too long,” Mr. Obama said at the White House in announcing the leaders’ agreement. “Nevertheless, ultimately the leaders of both parties have found their way toward compromise.”

Already, though, pressure was growing from both ends of the political spectrum to reject the deal, and Republican leaders in the House and Senate both pointedly told their colleagues there is just a framework, and any final deal will depend on the reactions of rank-and-file lawmakers.

The framework calls for an immediate $900 billion increase in debt authority, which would last through early next year, coupled with new 10-year spending caps that should reduce spending over the next decade by $917 billion.

Another $1.5 trillion in debt authority could be authorized if Congress approves and sends to the states a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, or if a newly established special deficit committee recommends at least that much in savings in a report expected by November.

Republicans said the deal, if it survives upcoming votes in the House and Senate, would mark the first time that an extension of borrowing authority would be tied to spending cuts.

“To pass this settlement, we’ll need the support of Democrats and Republicans in both the House and Senate. There is no way either party — in either chamber — can do this alone,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said on the Senate floor as he told colleagues of the progress.

That support was fraying even before the framework was announced.

Liberal members of Congress said the deficit committee would likely end up cutting Social Security and Medicare, and they chastised Mr. Obama and Democratic leaders for refusing to insist that tax increases be part of the deal.

“Today we, and everyone we have worked to speak for and fight for, were thrown under the bus,” said Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, Arizona Democrat, who is co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

From the right, activists said they feared the committee will end up looking to raise taxes, which they called anathema to conservative principles.

And still other lawmakers straddling the ideological divide feared future spending limits would cut too deeply into the military.

Mr. Obama said he wanted to tackle both tax increases and cuts in the major entitlement programs in this deal, but said that will now be up to the newly established committee.

That committee will be made up of 12 members of Congress, who must submit their report before Thanksgiving. Both chambers will then have to vote before Christmas. The committee can look into any area of spending or taxes.

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