Congressional leaders reach deal on debt ceiling

By Marcia Dunn, CNN

(CNN) – Congressional leaders emerged Tuesday with a deal to raise the federal debt ceiling by $300 billion, according to lawmakers in both parties.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said lawmakers agreed to a so-called continuing resolution with an attached bipartisan deal to raise the federal debt ceiling for three months.

“It’s time to live within our means and deal with this debt ceiling in a responsible fashion,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he and Ryan brokered the agreement and it was agreed to in principle by all congressional leaders late Monday night.

On Twitter Tuesday night, President Donald Trump appeared to confirm the deal with a simple tweet.

“Excellent preliminary meeting in Oval with @SpeakerRyan and @SenateMajLdr McConnell. Making progress – four week extension would be best!” Trump tweeted, adding, “The W.H. staff is working hard on a plan. Getting close!”

The White House has said the debt ceiling must be raised by August 2 to avoid a credit default. Trump has previously indicated he would be open to an increase of three months.

Congressional Republican leaders like Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have come under increasing pressure from the President to act and buck up rank-and-file members who are pushing for a “clean” debt ceiling increase. But passing legislation with a clean debt ceiling hike would likely require Democratic votes and would likely draw protests from anti-debt conservatives.

This legislative outcome is also unpopular with large swaths of the public. A CNN/ORC International poll released in June showed 61% of Americans saying they would not support raising the debt ceiling without conditions attached. In addition, 37% of respondents said they would be “very” or “somewhat” likely to blame the Republican Congress if the debt ceiling is not raised, while 23% said they would be “very” or “somewhat” likely to blame the Democrats in Congress.

While the agreement was reached behind closed doors, both Democrats and Republicans were quick to credit Ryan.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said during a floor speech that Ryan “played a very good role” in the negotiations.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said he was “encouraged” by Ryan’s “modest action” on the debt ceiling.

“We’ll see how it does in the form of legislation,” Hoyer said during a closed-door Democratic caucus meeting.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican, was also supportive of the agreement.

“What is done in darkness is often greater than what is done in the light of day,” Cassidy told reporters after the meeting.

Ryan said that while he would not “pre-judge” the agreement’s success in the Senate, he would be “delighted” if it passed both chambers.

“We are on the precipice of something historic,” Ryan said.


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