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Harry Reid Tentatively Signs Off On Debt Ceiling Deal

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DEBT CEILING HARRY REID
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks during a news conference on debt ceiling legislation on Capitol Hill on Saturday, July 30, 2011, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) | AP

WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has tentatively signed off on a deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling, which has been primarily negotiated between his Republican counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and President Barack Obama.

"Senator Reid has signed off on the debt-ceiling agreement pending caucus approval," Reid's spokesman, Adam Jentleson, said in a statement on Sunday afternoon.

In coming out in favor of the deal, Reid paves the way for its passage in the Senate. There are likely to be members of both parties who will end up opposing the measure, which would cut $1 trillion in spending over the course of ten years before giving way to a super committee of lawmakers to find $1.8 trillion in additional cuts. But that chamber seems like less of a steep hurdle for passage.

The real question mark is the House of Representatives. On Sunday, Democratic aides suggested that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was inching towards formally supporting the deal. But no formal word has been issued from her office. Her caucus, which is compromised of more progressives than the Senate, presents a far tougher sell than Reid's.

Even without Pelosi's support, the real question remains whether House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will end up backing the measure. Members of his conference have raised concerns that the enforcement mechanism to ensure that the committee's recommendations are passed into law leans too heavily on cuts to the defense department's budget. Democrats have countered that the triggers are disproportionately weighted against their interests, as they include no revenue raisers and involve steep cuts to domestic spending and Medicare suppliers.

Boehner is expected to hold a conference call with his members on Sunday. A request for comment from his office was not returned.