Gang of Six bill could be ready for Aug. 2 deadline

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Earlier on Thursday, Conrad voiced support for a six-month hike to the debt ceiling to buy "time for the committees of Congress to come back with a floor package."

Conrad met with other Gang of Six members on Thursday morning as the group struggled to maintain momentum.

The group will not release the number of senators who have agreed to support the plan, but it said the number is higher than 33.

“It is a growing list and it is more than a third of the Senate,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). “We are meeting with our own folks and with our colleagues in the Senate and trying to answer some of the questions that have been raised.”

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said the list is growing, but he would not disclose the number of senators who have signed on. Conrad said a letter of support is not being released because it would interfere with the 'cut, cap and balance' bill on the Senate floor. 

Conrad said the Gang is still working with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on possible options for including parts of the $3.7 trillion deficit-reduction package developed by the Gang in a debt-ceiling increase bill.

That effort appears to have stalled as the Senate waits for the House to come up with a next step after "cut, cap and balance."

“We are presented with a target that is moving. We had talks with [Reid] previously, the day before yesterday about various options. ... I’ve talked to him this morning about some ideas but things are changing so you have to let things develop a little further,” Conrad said. 

“I think that is an open question because a lot of that still has to rely on what will the House do,” he said, adding that if it was the administration and the Senate alone, it could be easier.

Conrad would not say whether he is confident that the Gang plan can get a vote in the Senate at some point. 

“I am confident that the work of the Group of Six at the end of the day is going to play a central role in dealing with the debt,” he said.


—Alexander Bolton contributed to this story.

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