Democratic US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced he would take steps Friday that could set up a razor’s edge final vote on averting a disastrous debt default on an August 2 deadline.
“This is likely our last chance to save this nation from default,” Reid said in remarks to open the chamber. “By the end of the day today, I must take action on the Senate’s compromise legislation.”
His announcement came as Republican House Speaker John Boehner struggled to rally his restive majority around his proposal for ending the standoff after twice putting off a vote initially programmed for Wednesday.
Reid was expected to move to end debate on a plan he laid out to raise the US debt limit past the November 2012 election, as sought by President Barack Obama, with a first procedural vote likely around 1:00 a.m. (0500 GMT) Sunday.
A second vote would come around 7:30 am (1130 GMT) Monday, and final passage on Tuesday — when the US Treasury says cash-strapped Washington will run out of cash to pay its bills — a Democratic aide said.
Reid said he would push ahead with his plan as written but also appealed to Republican Senate Minority Mitch McConnell to help him modify it in a way to make it more appealing to Republicans, who control the House of Representatives.
“I have invited Senator McConnell to sit down with me, and to negotiate in good faith knowing the clock is running down. I hope will accept my offer,” the Democratic lawmaker said.
“I know the Senate compromise bill Democrats have offered is not perfect in Republican eyes. Nor is it perfect for Democrats. But together, we must make it work for all of us. It is the only option,” said Reid.
“The settlement on the table will never give either party everything it wants. But it already meets the Republicans’ demands,” he said.