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AP / The Hindu / WASHINGTON, July 31, 2011.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks during a news conference on debt-ceiling legislation on Capitol Hill on Saturday, in Washington - AP.
The Republican-led House on Saturday rejected a Senate Democratic Bill to raise the nation’s debt limit just three days before the deadline to avert a first-ever default on U.S. financial obligations. President Barack Obama and legislators remained at an impasse on any possible compromise.
With tensions high at a rare weekend session, the legislation failed on a 246-173 House vote that was largely symbolic. The Senate has yet to vote on the Bill.
Saturday’s result, however, could pave the way for negotiations on a compromise with Tuesday’s deadline on the government’s ability to pay its bills fast approaching.
Shortly after the House vote, Mr. Obama stepped back into the debt-ceiling talks, calling Congress’ top two Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, to the White House for a meeting on Saturday afternoon.
Top congressional leaders and the White House now have little time to work out a deal that can pass both chambers of Congress and be signed by Mr. Obama before a Tuesday deadline to avoid default.
Both the House and Senate debated through the afternoon in unusual weekend sessions at the Capitol as tourists sampled the sights on the National Mall outside. The temperature rose to the 90°F (mid-30°C) on a sunny day.
Tuesday is when the government says it will run out of money to meet its financial obligations. It needs Congress to approve an increase in its borrowing authority, known as the debt ceiling. Past increases have been routine, but Republicans, citing the giant U.S. deficit, have demanded huge spending cuts as a condition for approving the increase.
“There is very little time” Mr. Obama said on Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address. He called for an end to political gamesmanship, saying “the time for compromise on behalf of the American people is now.”
Setting the stage for the high-stakes weekend, Senate Democrats late Friday killed a House-passed debt-limit increase and budget-cutting Bill less than two hours after it squeaked through the House of Representatives. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid set up a test procedural vote for the wee hours of Sunday morning on his own legislation.
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