In a symbolic vote that underscored the continuing impasse over how to pay the nation's bills, the House on Saturday defeated a Senate proposal to raise the debt ceiling. But shortly after the latest act in an elaborate weekend of kabuki theater on Capitol Hill, Republican congressional leaders raised hopes that the long-running dispute may be resolved before a critical Aug. 2 deadline.
Shortly after the House voted mostly along party lines, 246-173, to defeat a proposal by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to reduce the deficit by $2.4 trillion over ten years and raise the debt ceiling by the same amount, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., appeared before reporters to announce that they are in talks with the White House that they believe will avert a potentially catastrophic default next week.
"We are not going to default for the first time in history," McConnell said. "That is not going to happen."
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McConnell said he had spoken with both both Obama and Vice President Joe Biden Saturday afternoon. "I am confident and optimistic that we are going to get an agreement," McConnell said, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., huddled with the president at the other end of Pennsylvania avenue."We are now fully engaged." Boehner seconded McConnell's upbeat mood. "Despite our differences, we're dealing with reasonable, responsible people who want this crisis to end as quickly as possible," the speaker said.