Reid says he's waiting on Boehner to tell him 'path forward' on raising debt ceiling

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday claimed his chamber has a "path forward" for raising the debt ceiling but said he's waiting on Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to tell him what can pass the House. 

“I'm at a point where I'm saying we need to hear from the House of Representatives,” Reid said from the Senate floor. “We have a plan to go forward over here. But until we hear from the House of Representatives, really our, all of our work here would be for naught.

"I await the word from the Speaker," Reid said. 

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In response, a spokesman for Boehner said the Senate needs to move on the debt-ceiling package that the House passed Tuesday evening. 

"We are aware of the deadline, which is why we hope Sen. Reid will move quickly to schedule a vote on the 'Cut, Cap and Balance plan' passed by the House with bipartisan support," the spokesman said.

Congressional Democratic leaders are headed back to the White House on Wednesday for more talks on raising the debt ceiling. 

White House press secretary Jay Carney announced House and Senate Democratic would meet with President Obama at the White House at 2:50 p.m.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said the House's position is "crystal clear."

"In case Sen. Reid didn’t notice, a bipartisan 'Gang of 234' just sent him the way forward. It’s called the 'Cut, Cap, and Balance Act,' " Jordan said in a statement. "This is the only plan that can fundamentally solve our debt problem, and it is waiting for Sen. Reid to bring up on the Senate floor for an up-or-down vote."

The "Cut, Cap and Balance" bill passed the House Tuesday evening in a 234-190 vote. The legislation is not expected to pass the Senate, and Obama has threatened to veto it.

The legislation would cut spending by more than $100 billion in 2012, cap spending over the next decade, and prohibit more borrowing until Congress passes a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.


Boehner on Wednesday said party leaders in the lower chamber have begun discussions over a “Plan B” to increase the debt ceiling by the Treasury Department’s Aug. 2 deadline in case a broad agreement isn't possible.

Reid is working with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on a fall-back proposal that could put the onus on President Obama to make three separate requests to raise the debt limit.

House Republicans said there was little discussion of the McConnell-Reid plan in a conference meeting Tuesday, but that Boehner had described it as a “final option.”

The fall-back plan would likely need Democratic support to pass the House.

“We in the Senate, we can have the greatest ideas in the world, but if they're not accepted in the House, we can't extend the debt ceiling, which we have to do,” Reid said.

Reid admitted Wednesday morning that the precise path the Senate will choose in a debt-reduction package remains undetermined. 

The bipartisan Gang of Six added a new wrinkle to the debt negotiations Tuesday when it offered a plan, received warmly by many senators, to reduce the deficit by $3.7 trillion over the next 10 years. The plan would increase government revenues by $1 trillion through closing tax loopholes.

The Gang's plan — which President Obama hailed as a "significant step" in the negotiations — will not be completed in time to meet the Aug. 2 deadline for raising the debt ceiling. But it's possible that some of the group's recommendations could be included in a debt-ceiling deal.  

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), a member of the Gang, is scheduled to meet with Reid on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the bipartisan framework the senators came up with for cutting the deficit.

Last updated at 12:30 p.m. Russell Berman contributed.