By Mike Lillis - 07/21/11 08:26 PM EDT
Amid a swirl of rumors that a debt-ceiling deal could be close, the second-ranking House Democrat on Thursday suggested he won't accept a deficit-reduction package that's absent revenue raisers.
"I've said that we need revenues if we do a deal," Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), the Democratic whip, said as he slipped into the chamber for a vote.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) sounded a similar warning earlier in the day.
"The president always talked about balance. There has to be some fairness in this. This can't all be cuts," Reid said. "There has to be some revenues. The caucus agrees with that. I hope the president sticks with that, and I am confident he will."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has also been adamant that a debt-limit package be "balanced" between spending cuts, favored by Republicans, and tax revenue increases, urged by many Democrats.
"It's about … making the cuts to reduce the deficit in a way … that is bipartisan and … balanced," Pelosi said Thursday.
Both the White House and GOP leaders denied Thursday that they're nearing an agreement on the debt-limit package. Still, Democratic aides told a different tale, indicating the White House informed party leaders Wednesday night that Obama was preparing to cut a deal with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to slash spending and raise the debt ceiling.
Meanwhile, rank-and-file members of both parties — and even some party leaders — have been left largely in the dark as the fast-moving negotiations evolve.
"We haven't heard [anything]," Rep. John Larson (Conn.), chairman of the Democratic Caucus, said Thursday afternoon. "There's a rumor every five minutes now."