No deal yet: Senate votes to continue debate on debt ceiling bill

Chris Moody

It's not over yet. The Senate rejected a motion Sunday to end debate on a bill to raise the nation's debt ceiling, leaving the door open for a final vote on a plan negotiated between the parties.

The 50-49 procedural vote--the bill needed 60 votes to pass--effectively shut down Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's legislative attempt to end the stand-off. Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts was the only Republican to vote with the chamber's Democrats.

The details of a final proposal are slim, but lawmakers involved in the talks said it would initially cut about $1 trillion over 10 years and establish a bipartisan committee from both chambers to find another $1.4-1.8 trillion in cuts by November. The plan, still being negotiated behind closed doors, will not include any new taxes.

Earlier Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that both sides were "very close" to reaching a deal and made clear that Congress and the White House would find a solution before the Aug. 2 deadline set by the Treasury Department.

"We're very close, we had a very good day yesterday," McConnell said on CNN's "State of the Union" about a plan to reduce projected spending growth by $3 trillion over the next decade. "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."

As late as Sunday afternoon, Reid said he remains "cautiously" optimistic, but affirmed that a deal was not yet in place.

"We are not there yet," Reid said--but shortly after the defeat of the procedural vote to end debate, he said in reference to a final deal that "we are hopeful and confident that it can be done."

The House on Friday approved a separate Republican plan to raise the debt ceiling for six months and cut more than $900 billion from spending levels. The House bill also required that Congress pass a balanced budget Amendment to the Constitution before lawmakers could raise the debt limit again. The House measure was immediately tabled in the Senate.

At this point, it appears that the answer to the debt debate lies in the negotiating room between McConnell, Reid and the White House. When McConnell asked Reid whether senators should expect another vote today, the majority leader replied "I wouldn't suggest a ball game."