WASHINGTON — In a last-minute stab at compromise, Republican congressional leaders and the White House made significant progress Saturday toward a deal to avert a government default threatened for early next week, according to officials familiar with the talks.
Under the plan, the nation's debt limit would rise in two steps by about $2.4 trillion and spending would be cut by a slightly larger amount, these officials said. The first stage – about $1 trillion – would take place immediately and the second later in the year.
Congress would be required to vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, but none of the debt limit increase would be contingent on its approval.
One official said the two sides had settled on general concepts, but added there were numerous details to be worked out, and no assurance of a final agreement.
Still, word of significant progress after weeks of stalemate offered the strongest indication yet that an economy-crippling default might be averted.
The officials who described the talks did so on condition of anonymity, citing their sensitive nature.