Debt Plan Must Reach Obama's Desk Today
Washington (CNN) -- The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on a last-minute compromise plan to raise the nation's debt ceiling Tuesday, imposing sweeping new spending cuts while narrowly averting a national default and potential economic catastrophe at the last possible moment.
Senators are set to vote on the plan around noon. While the bill requires a supermajority of 60 votes to clear the 100-member chamber, it is expected to be easily approved.
The measure was approved by the House of Representatives on Monday by a 269-161 vote, overcoming opposition from unhappy liberal Democrats and tea party Republicans.
The measure needs to be signed into law by President Barack Obama before the end of the day. If the current $14.3 trillion debt limit is not increased by that point, Americans could face rapidly rising interest rates, a falling dollar and shakier financial markets, among other problems.
Even if the measure passes, however, the federal government could still face a credit rating downgrade.
The agreement -- reached Sunday by Obama and congressional leaders from both parties -- calls for up to $2.4 trillion in savings over the next decade, raises the debt ceiling through the end of 2012 and establishes a special congressional committee to recommend long-term fiscal reforms.
Emotions have run high during the final debates on Capitol Hill. Numerous Republicans remain worried about cuts in defense spending and the lack of a required balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. Progressive Democrats are livid over the extent of the deal's domestic spending cuts, as well as the absence of any immediate tax hikes on wealthier Americans.
This "may be the single worst piece of public policy to ever come out of this institution," liberal Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, declared Monday. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, noted that the measure "makes these big cuts and has ... not one red cent from the wealthiest people in our country -- no revenue."
Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other GOP leaders told rank-and-file Republicans the deal would start reshaping how Washington spends taxpayer money, which was the goal of conservatives who fueled the GOP takeover of the House in last year's midterm elections. >>>CLICK HERE TO READ MORE
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