Reid postpones vote to “give everyone as much room as possible” for deal; Update: $2.8T in cuts and debt-ceiling boost, no tax hike?

posted at 11:45 pm on July 30, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

The late breaking news from the nation’s capital tonight is that the late-breaking news from the capital early tomorrow morning has been postponed:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday that he would postpone a vote on his bill to raise the debt limit to give negotiators at the White House more time to work.

He said the Senate would vote on his plan at 1:00 p.m. Sunday, instead of 1:00 a.m., as was originally scheduled. …

“I believe we should give everyone as much room as possible to do their work,” he said. “I spoke to the White House, quite a few times this evening, and they’ve asked me to give everyone as much time as possible to reach an agreement if one can be reached.”

The Senate adjourned at 10:13 p.m. Saturday and will reconvene at noon Sunday.

Translastion: The remarks by John Boehner and Mitch McConnell earlier today appear to have been accurate.  CBS’ Mark Knoller had been tweeting earlier that Dan Pfeiffer was poo-pooing the notion that a deal was brewing, but that he has “covered WH long enough to know when pool kept late on Sat night something’s going on.”  And as I predicted earlier tonight, the first stage may be a very short-term debt-limit increase to get time to finalize a deal:

If they get a tentative deal, Pres Obama will agree to short term extension of debt limit to allow time to enact deal.

If Obama told Reid to extend the vote for another 12 hours, then the White House must figure that they’re close to a deal.

Update: Jimmie Bise links to ABC, which reports the tentative parameters of the deal:

  • Debt ceiling increase of up to $2.8 trillion
  • Spending cuts of roughly $1 trillion
  • Vote on the Balanced Budget Amendment
  • Special committee to recommend cuts of $1.8 trillion (or whatever it takes to add up to the total of the debt ceiling increase)
  • Committee must make recommendations before Thanksgiving recess
  • If Congress does not approve those cuts by late December, automatic across-the-board cuts go into effect, including cuts to Defense and Medicare.

So Obama gets all of the increase in one fell swoop, but no tax hikes, apparently, plus a total of $2.8 trillion in reductions for projected spending (none of the plans actually made cuts in spending) in areas guaranteed to hurt both parties.  The vote on the BBA is a win for Boehner, but only in the sense that Republicans get Democrats on the record for opposing it.  It’s a deal we could have reached two weeks ago, but were never going to reach until time ran out.

Update II: Via Jeff Dunetz, National Journal’s Major Garrett also gets a similar story from his sources, but the news is a little better:

  • 2.8 trillion in deficit reduction with $1 trillion locked in through discretionary spending caps over 10 years and the remainder determined by a so-called super committee.
  • The Super Committee must report precise deficit-reduction proposals by Thanksgiving.
  • The Super Committee would have to propose $1.8 trillion spending cuts to achieve that amount of deficit reduction over 10 years.
  • If the Super Committee fails, Congress must send a balanced-budget amendment to the states for ratification. If that doesn’t happen, across-the-board spending cuts would go into effect and could touch Medicare and defense spending.
  • No net new tax revenue would be part of the special committee’s deliberations.

I expect plenty of hyperventilating at the term “Super Committee,” but it’s basically the kind of ad hoc committee that Congress can authorize at any time.  It sounds a lot like the BRAC process used by Congress to identify military bases for closure.  The prohibition on net tax revenue gains is a big, big win for Republicans if it holds.  I should note that Jimmie Bise in his post believes that the second round of cuts might be actual cuts; if so, then this is an even bigger win.

Note too that the second round of cuts appears to be guaranteed; if the Super Commission can’t agree on specific and precise reductions, then an across-the-board cut goes into place.

Update III: Jen Rubin hears the same deal from the offices of two “senior” Republicans on the Hill.

Breaking on Hot Air