- The Washington Times - Monday, August 1, 2011

The debt-limit framework has been struck — now leaders on Capitol Hill are feverishly seeking to sell it to their colleagues in the hope of beating Tuesday’s deadline.

The White House dispatched Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who was intimately involved in the negotiations, to the Capitol early Monday to try to win over wavering Democrats.

And Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate were slated to meet in their separate caucuses to talk over the deal, which envisions a two-step debt limit increase that would last through the 2012 election while limiting future spending by at least $917 billion, and possibly $1.5 trillion more.

Early signals suggested that while few were happy with the deal, many of them are even more fearful of failure on the eve of a debt crisis.

“Many of the members I’ve talked to, again, uppermost in their mind is default is not an option,” House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, told MSNBC. “We have to protect America’s credit worthiness and the ability to grow jobs in our society and protect the American public.”

The bill won easy passage on Monday night in the House by a 269-161 count, comfortably above the 216 needed for approval.

The bill will likely need to pass a 60-vote threshold in Tuesday’s Senate vote.

Earlier Monday, Mr. Hoyer said Republicans in the House should have to supply the bulk of those votes, since House Speaker John A. Boehner, the GOP’s top negotiator for much of the process, won so many concessions in the bill.

In the Senate, though, it’s shaping up that more Democrats than Republicans would support the deal, which does bear the stamp of their leader, Sen. Harry Reid.

His insistence that the long-term debt number last through the 2012 elections and his proposal for a committee to fight out the bigger issues of entitlement spending cuts and potential tax increases is the crux of the deal.

Still, Republicans said they won on all of their principles — a case Mr. Boehner made Sunday night in a phone call with his fellow House Republicans.

“There is nothing in this framework that violates our principles. It’s all spending cuts,” he said. “The White House bid to raise taxes has been shut down. And as I vowed back in May — when everyone thought I was crazy for saying it — every dollar of debt limit increase will be matched by more than a dollar of spending cuts.”

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