Key Democratic senator: Symbolic debt-limit vote bad idea

The Senate Budget Committee chairman and Gang of Six member also noted he would not vote for any long-term hike of the debt ceiling unless it’s paired with a plan to rein in deficits, though he would back short-term extensions. Conrad has also said his fiscal 2012 budget proposal, expected to be released soon, will contain $4 trillion in deficit reduction over a decade.

Brad Dayspring, a Cantor spokesman, responded to Conrad’s comments by saying the North Dakota Democrat was underestimating the markets. 

“With all due respect, Senator Conrad should understand, despite his suggestion to the contrary, that the markets are actually quite sophisticated and capable of recognizing that there are instances in the legislative process where a proposal may fail or be vetoed before an alternative proposal becomes law,” Dayspring said in a statement.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced earlier this week that the federal government would still be able to borrow money until early August, giving Congress more time to raise the debt ceiling than previously expected. The debt limit is still expected to be hit by the middle of this month, but a previous estimate had said Treasury would only be able to delay default until around July 8.

Business leaders have pressed lawmakers to deal with the debt ceiling as quickly as possible to keep from roiling markets. Geithner, Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidBill O'Reilly: Politics helped kill Kate Steinle, Zarate just pulled the trigger Tax reform is nightmare Déjà vu for Puerto Rico Ex-Obama and Reid staffers: McConnell would pretend to be busy to avoid meeting with Obama MORE (D-Nev.) and a large contingent of House Democrats are among those who have supported a “clean” debt-ceiling vote. 

But Republicans have stressed repeatedly that a debt limit vote must come in tandem with serious deficit reduction initiatives, an idea that also appears to have gained traction among some Senate Democrats.