By Erik Wasson - 06/23/11 06:51 PM EDT
Party leaders must step in and reach a deal on the debt ceiling, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday.
With House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) leaving bipartisan talks and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) demanding President Obama step in on the issue of taxes, Reid said only the senior leaders of the Senate and House can work out a deal with the president.
“I think that now with what Kyl and Cantor have done, it’s in the hands of the Speaker and the president and sadly, probably me,” Reid told reporters.
“We are going to do something by Aug. 2,” Reid said, referring to a deadline to raise the debt limit set by the Treasury Department. “Republicans should stop playing chicken and pushing us close to that line. Its not very good for the country or the world.”
Reid shot down a notion floated moments earlier by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) that his group of five deficit negotiators could step up and play a leadership role. Conrad had said that he was preparing a two-step legislative proposal to deal with the debt-ceiling crisis and long-term debt problem.
The nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling will be reached by Aug. 2 and if the GOP cannot be convinced to vote to raise it, the U.S. could default on its bonds.
“My honest feeling is that we are beyond gangs of five and gangs of sixes. The work they’ve done is extremely important,” Reid said.
Reid and other Senate Democrats continued to push Thursday for the inclusion of stimulus in the debt-ceiling deal and for the end of niche tax breaks, such as for oil companies.