WASHINGTON, July 17 (UPI) -- "Responsible" leaders of Congress won't let the United States slip into default, White House Budget Director Jacob Lew said Sunday.
While he had no concrete progress to report on the debt ceiling talks, Lew said on CNN's "State of the Union" that "more and more" members of Congress realize it must be increased.
"There will be a fringe that believes that playing with Armageddon is a good idea, but I don't think that's where the majority will be," Lew said.
"I have confidence that ultimately the responsible leadership in Washington will not fail to take an action where failure … would create chaos in the U.S. and world economy."
Lew would not say which bills President Barack Obama would let go unpaid in the event of a default, insisting it will not come to that.
Speaking on ABC's "This Week," Senate Minority Whip Jonathan Kyl, R-Ariz., said: "The country will not default. Whether or not there are savings achieved in the process remains open to question."
Kyl expected House Republicans to pass their "cut, cap and balance" plan, which includes a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, but if that fails in the Democratic-led Senate, as expected, "and if there's no other way to reach some kind of savings agreement, then at the end of the day, Republican leaders have made it clear that we will not be the ones who put the government into default."
Kyl predicted the Senate would back a proposal by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to give the president authority to raise the debt ceiling in return for future curbs on spending, but other lawmakers were cool to the idea.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said: "I don't have any confidence that anything Republican or Democratic leaders do is going to lead to the solutions that we need. It never has in the past."
But he said he would entertain closing tax loopholes "like the ethanol subsidy," speaking on "State of the Union."
In the House, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said on "Fox News Sunday," "the McConnell [plan] doesn't have 218 Republican votes. No way. … Who knows if there's a combination of R's and D's who go for it. But I'm telling you, House conservative members ... they're not going to support" it.
As for the Senate, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said on CBS' "Face the Nation": "There will be a debate on the balanced budget amendment, but no one believes there are 67 votes for any version of that."
On NBC's "Meet the Press," Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., agreed there is "no alternative but to raise the debt ceiling," but said: "There's only one plan in Congress right now to do it in a way that the credit agencies say won't turn us towards a negative rating, and that's the cut cap and balance plan in the House that gives the president the increase in the debt limit, but it does it with those credible, long-term, deficit-reduction measures that both Moody's and S&P have said we have to do or they will lower our credit rating."
"We've got to draw a line in the sand now," DeMint said, "because the day of reckoning is going to come."