WASHINGTON -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) vowed on Thursday not to help Republicans pass their debt limit plant, arguing the leadership should work with the White House on a new plan to raise the debt limit before Aug. 2.
Five days before the nation may begin to default on its loans, Pelosi said that neither plan on the table currently has the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate. House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) plan to cut $22 billion for the 2012 fiscal year will go up for a vote on Thursday afternoon, but is expected to fail in the Senate without Democratic support.
Meanwhile, a plan by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is still lacking the 60 votes needed to bypass a Republican filibuster in the Senate.
Once those plans are out of the way, Pelosi said, congressional leadership can work with President Obama on a deal to raise the debt limit. Talks between Democratic and Republican leaders with the White House have fallen apart repeatedly due to an impasse over revenue-raisers in a final deal, which Democrats support and Republicans say are a non-starter.
"I'm hopeful that once everyone has made their statement that we can again come together with the White House ... and come to terms with a way to move forward," Pelosi said at a press conference.
Pelosi and her caucus leadership are whipping their members against the Boehner bill, which she said destroys progress "in own fell swoop." Republicans, meanwhile, are furiously working their conference to support the bill ahead of Thursday's vote.
"The Boehner plan will not pass because it has Democratic votes," she said, hinting that some Democrats may support the final bill but not until 217 Republicans first vote for it.
She admonished Republicans for putting forward Boehner's Budget Control Act, which would make major cuts to Pell Grants for students and establish a "Super Congress" to put forward proposals that could change Social Security and Medicare benefits and delivery.
"This isn't about reducing the deficit, we can come to an agreement on that," Pelosi said. "But we cannot come to an agreement about the hardship they want to put on the middle class by reducing what the government does."
Congress must approve a debt limit increase by Aug. 2 to prevent the government defaulting on its loans, according to the U.S. Treasury. Pelosi said she hopes Republicans do not need to see the markets take a major hit before they will approve an increase in the debt limit.
"Is it because they want to make this statement about the markets tumbling down and then they'll pass the bill?" she said. "Hopefully that is not the case."
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