John Boehner: Downgrade Of U.S. Credit Rating 'Beyond My Control'
WASHINGTON -- House Republicans are attempting to wash their hands of the debt limit on Thursday, claiming the Senate will be responsible for a default if it does not pass a House plan to raise the debt limit and cut $22 billion over the next year.
Whether that plan would lead to a downgrading of the U.S. credit rating was "beyond my control," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said at a press conference.
"There's no reason for [the Senate] to say no," Boehner said of his debt plan. "This is as far of a step as we are able to take at this point in time that is doable and sign-able to become law."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pronounced the Boehner plan, called the Budget Control Act, "dead on arrival" in the Senate, and all 53 Democrats have vowed to block it.
Although the bill would raise the debt ceiling, presumably before the Aug. 2 deadline, it could still trigger a downgrading of the U.S. credit rating by ratings agency Standard & Poor's, according to reports, because it would require the debt limit to be increased again in a matter of months.
But Boehner declined to answer questions over what the House would do next after the Senate tables the Budget Control Act, hinting that the plan may be its last offer.
"After today, the House will have sent to the Senate not one, but two bills that rein in spending," he said. "The Senate will have no more excuses for inaction."
Whether Boehner's bill will even pass the House remains in doubt. Although more Republicans are signaling they will support the bill, some still say it does too little to shrink the debt, particularly because it does not require passage of a balanced budget amendment. (It does require a vote on one, which will take place in the House on Friday.)
"We're moving in the right direction," House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters of the vote tally. "This conference has moved a great deal in short amount of time."
If it passes in the House, the Senate plans to take it up immediately after, Reid announced on the floor on Thursday.
"It will be defeated," Reid said on the Senate floor. "They know that, the American people should now understand that clearly."
Watch Reid announcing that Boehner's plan will not pass the Senate: