Saturday winds down with little progress to report in debt-limit negotiations

House GOP leaders announced there was no progress to report in debt-limit negotiations with the President Obama and congressional Democrats as Saturday evening approached.

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said GOP leaders have kept in contact with White House officials and Democratic leaders but they are no closer to a deal to raise the debt limit. 

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"We are keeping the lines of communication open with all parties. Meetings have been occurring, ideas are being exchanged and scenarios are being discussed. But there is nothing to report in terms of progress being made," said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel late Saturday afternoon.

A Senate Democratic aide also said there was no progress to report and, as of 5 p.m. Saturday, no meetings had been scheduled for the next day.

That leaves Congress only 17 days to reach a debt limit before the nation is at risk of a default, according to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Geithner, however, has said that Congress could give the federal government special authority to borrow money to make Social Security payments after Aug. 2.

A White House official said earlier in the day that Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have been in frequent communication with leaders and staff of both parties in the House and Senate.

Congressional aides predicted Friday that the principal negotiators might meet again on Sunday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is in town but Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has traveled back to Kentucky.

It appears House Republican leaders are unlikely to sign on to any agreement that raises the debt limit before the lower chamber has the chance to vote on the Cut, Cap and Balance bill.

The legislation would cut $111 billion in fiscal year 2012, cap spending at 18 percent of gross domestic product by 2021 and require passage of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution before the debt limit is raised.

A House GOP leadership aide said the legislation would come up for a vote next week.

Any deficit-reduction deal linked to raising the debt limit would undercut political momentum for passing a balanced budget amendment, which requires two-thirds support of each chamber of Congress.

Republicans need at least 20 Democrats in the Senate vote vote for a balanced budget amendment.


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