Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) outlined Sunday a possible deal to re-open the federal government and increase the debt ceiling, saying he was encouraged by recent talks between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
The potential deal would fund the government until some point before the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration take effect again in January. The sides would then work to replace the cuts. It would also raise the debt limit before it is breached on Oct. 17.
“I’m cautiously hopeful, optimistic, that we can come to an agreement … based on the bipartisan meetings that are going on,” Schumer said on CBS’s Face The Nation. “While I don’t want to get into details, the frameworks they each had were not that far apart. Between the president, Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans, there’s a will. We now have to find a way. We know the House won’t find that way, so all of it rests on our shoulders.”
Schumer identified two primary sticking points between Reid and McConnell. The first is a long-standing one: What would replace sequestration’s automatic spending cuts. Republicans want cuts to entitlement programs, Schumer said. Democrats want a mix of spending cuts, including some to entitlement programs, and new revenue. The other issue is how long to raise the debt ceiling, Schumer said, with Democrats seeking a longer extension and Republicans a shorter one.
Asked about how any Senate plan would get through the House, Schumer said the hope was that the Senate could pass a bill with enough bipartisan support that it would force Speaker John Boehner to relent and let it pass, even if the right wing of his party rebels.
“I think there’s a feeling among Senate Republicans … that if we can get a broad bipartisan majority and pass something in the next few days, it may help crack the logjam in the House,” Schumer said. “Of course, Speaker Boehner wouldn’t get the 40 or so people on the hard right to go along, but could get a lot of his mainstream Republicans.”
“Speaker Boehner can’t lead. But if the Senate leads, I believe he could follow our lead.”