Mitch McConnell: Congress 'Very Close' To A Debt Ceiling Deal (VIDEO)
WASHINGTON -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said congressional negotiators are "very close" to a deal to cut spending by $3 trillion and lift the government's borrowing limit before Tuesday, the Treasury-set deadline to avoid a government default on its debts.
"We're very close. We had a very good day yesterday," McConnell said on CNN's "State of the Union" in response to question from host Gloria Borger.
"I think I can confidently say this debt ceiling increase will avoid default, which is important for everybody in America to know: We are not going to have a default for the first time, and we're not going to have job-killing tax increases in it, and we will deal with the problem, and that's that the government has been spending too much," McConnell said. "We're in a position where hopefully I can recommend to my members they take a serious look at it and support it."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had initially planned a procedural vote for 1 a.m. on Sunday, but that vote was postponed by 12 hours until Sunday afternoon to give Republicans more time to negotiate with the White House.
Pressed when the deal could become law, McConnell said, "Soon. We're aware that August 2nd is a date of some significance."
As for the outlines of the deal, McConnell said it would be larger than previously reported -- $3 trillion instead of $2.4 trillion in cuts over 10 years -- and would not include any new revenues.
"We're looking at a $3 trillion package, cuts now and caps over the next ten years to hold spending in-line, and then we're also going to be voting on a constitutional amendment to balance the budget," McConnell said.
The deal under works reportedly would allow the president to lift the borrowing limit by $2.4 trillion in incremental stages so long as Congress abides by spending limits it would set for itself. A key sticking point has been enforcement of the limits; the deal will create a joint committee of 12 members of the House and Senate -- essentially a "Super Congress" -- whose budget recommendations would be fast-tracked through the regular Congress.
Following McConnell on CNN, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said specifics of the deal hadn't been nailed down, but that a deal was much closer.
"There is no final agreement. It’s premature to talk about any specifics," Schumer said. "If there’s a word here to sum up the mood, it would be relief.... Default is far less a possibility now than it was even a day ago."
The deal won't do much to jump-start the flagging economy. Economic forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisors estimated last week that an earlier proposal for $2.2 trillion in spending cuts would slow annual economic growth by one-fourth of a percentage point through September 2015.