Reid alters debt plan to win GOP support

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has revised his plan to raise the debt limit in a last-ditch bid to attract Republican support.

The biggest change is that Reid would give the president almost unilateral power to raise the debt limit, borrowing an idea introduced by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Reid would have President Obama request a $2.4 trillion debt-limit increase in two installments of $1.2 trillion each. The requests would be subject to congressional resolutions of disapproval, but these would do little to restrict the president.

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Obama could veto any resolution of disapproval, and it would take a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress to override him.

According to a Senate Democratic aide, Reid also increased the total level of spending cuts from $2.2 trillion to $2.4 trillion, in part by using the January baseline — a budget maneuver House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) used on a previous version of his debt-limit plan. The January budget baseline does not count cuts Congress implemented in legislation passed this spring to avert a government shutdown.

So far Reid has had trouble attracting Republicans to his bill. Centrist Republican Sen. Scott Brown (Mass.) said he would vote for it, but otherwise it has received scant bipartisan support.

Reid filed a motion on Friday evening to end a GOP filibuster of his plan, setting up a vote for early Sunday morning. Reid would need 60 votes and support from at least seven Republicans to advance his proposal.

Reid accused McConnell of filibustering at the "worst possible time" by not allowing a simple majority vote, while McConnell said Republicans would support an immediate vote with a 60-vote threshold.

Senate Republicans are accusing Reid of hypocrisy and pointing to prior comments in which he said 60-vote supermajorities were necessary for "just about everything" in the Senate.

Reid said his plan is what the American people want: a compromise. 

"The proposal I have put forward is a reasonable compromise," Reid said. "It gives Democrats what they want, and it gives Republicans what they want. If we do nothing, our country will fail to pay its bills for the first time in history. Social Security checks could stop. Paychecks to our troops could stop."