“We are going to service our debt,” he told CNN. “But I am concerned about all the rhetoric around this ....I’m concerned that it will scare the markets.”
Aides to Reid and McConnell said the two men had resumed talks, including a Tuesday night conversation, and were hopeful about striking an agreement that could pass both houses.
It was expected to mirror a deal the leaders had neared Monday. That agreement was described as extending the debt limit through Feb. 7, immediately reopening the government fully and keeping agencies running until Jan. 15 — leaving lawmakers clashing over the same disputes in the near future.
It also set a mid-December deadline for bipartisan budget negotiators to report on efforts to reach compromise on longer-term issues like spending cuts. And it likely would require the Obama administration to certify that it can verify the income of people who qualify for federal subsidies for medical insurance under the 2010 health care law.
But that emerging Senate pact was put on hold Tuesday, an extraordinary day that highlighted how unruly rank-and-file House Republicans can be, even when the stakes are high. Facing solid Democratic opposition, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, tried in vain to write legislation that would satisfy GOP lawmakers, especially conservatives.
Boehner crafted two versions of the bill, but neither made it to a House vote because both faced certain defeat. Working against him was word during the day from the influential group Heritage Action for America that his legislation was not conservative enough — a worrisome threat for many GOP lawmakers whose biggest electoral fears are of primary challenges from the right.
The last of Boehner’s two bills had the same dates as the emerging Senate plan on the debt limit and shutdown.
But it also blocked federal payments for the president, members of Congress and other officials to help pay for their health care coverage. And it prevented the Obama administration from shifting funds among different accounts — as past Treasury secretaries have done — to let the government keep paying bills briefly after the federal debt limit has been reached.