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Dueling debt-ceiling plans: Can either pass Congress?

House Republicans and Senate Democrats introduced their plans to resolve the debt-ceiling impasse before Aug. 2. But bipartisan hopes appear thin.

House majority meader Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington Monday to criticize President Obama and congressional Democrats for their debt-ceiling plans. (AP Photo/)

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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With eight days before the US loses its authority to borrow funds, House and Senate leaders launched dueling plans to resolve the crisis.

Both deliberately avoid calls to raise taxes – a nonstarter for Republicans that derailed previous bids at a solution. But neither plan can yet claim a clear or even likely path to a bipartisan majority.

“What they have in common is that neither one is likely to pass – even its own house,” says Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia. “Here’s a case where you really do need a bipartisan agreement, and there’s no bipartisanship left.

The Republican plan

The House Republican plan, introduced on Monday by Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio, promises $3 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years, spending caps, and the promise of a vote on a balanced-budget amendment. It’s a softer version of the "cut, cap, and balance" plan that passed the House on a near party-line vote July 19 but went nowhere in the Senate.

The plan also provides an expedited track for the president to request a hike in the debt limit to be implemented in two stages. A first step calls for Congress to pass $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, allowing the president to request a $1 trillion hike in the debt ceiling. The request would be deemed passed unless Congress votes a resolution of disapproval – a procedure first proposed by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.


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