After Another Delay, What's Next For Debt Plan?

Jul 29, 2011
Originally published on July 29, 2011 11:50 am
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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Mary Louise Kelly.


And I'm Steve Inskeep.

W: What now. Days before a deadline, Republicans expected last night to pass a plan to extend federal borrowing authority.

LOUISE KELLY: NPR's Andrea Seabrook was at the Capitol through the bitter end last night and she's on the line now. Good morning, Andrea.'

ANDREA SEABROOK: Good morning, Mary Louise.

LOUISE KELLY: So tell us what exactly happened last night.

SEABROOK: Well, we were all watching the debate. In fact, most of the debate was done on the bill that would do what Republicans said they wanted to do, which was raise the debt ceiling by about $900 billion, cut spending by a little more than that, and put in place a structure for doing things like mull over in both chambers a balanced budget amendment.

F: And suddenly we're all sitting there watching them named post offices around the country.

LOUISE KELLY: It sounds just surreal. And the basic issue is they just didn't think they have enough votes to pass it. Will House Republican leader, John Boehner, will he try again today?

SEABROOK: I mean it's getting hard to trust anything that the aides are telling us right now. But John Boehner has taken the procedurals steps to be able to take up a new version today. It is still very unclear as to whether or not they will have the votes in a time for it to pass.

LOUISE KELLY: Is it clear to you, Andrea, is it clear to anybody whether we might actually see some sort of deal starting to shape up by the close of business today?

SEABROOK: It's a bill that's supposed to make big cuts in spending, but really that is emblematic of the problem here. John Boehner had taken the skeleton of the deal that he thought Democrats would pass, and then put all kinds of sweeteners on it for Republicans. And he just never got there. And when the two sides can't agree on minimal increases in things like student loan grants, it seems unlikely that ultimately there's going to be anything but the barest bones of a deal - if there even is one.

LOUISE KELLY: In just a few seconds left. But if there is no deal, if Congress can't get a plan together, what options does President Obama have at this point to step into the morass and try to get something done?

SEABROOK: Well, everyone except President Obama say he has some options constitutionally for going ahead and saving this whole crisis; saving the country from the crisis. Though again, he hasn't said that he will take any actions unilaterally.

LOUISE KELLY: Okay. Thank you, Andrea.

SEABROOK: My pleasure.

LOUISE KELLY: That's NPR congressional correspondent Andrea Seabrook. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.