WASHINGTON, July 27 (UPI) -- Every Democrat in the U.S. Senate, along with both Independents, said in a letter Wednesday they oppose a Republican debt-reduction plan set for a House vote.
In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, the Democrats, joined by Independents Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, said they oppose the Ohio Republican's plan because it raises the debt limit by $900 billion, which they say would not extend the federal government's ability to borrow past the 2012 election, and would contribute to further economic uncertainty, The Hill reported.
"A short-term extension like the one in your bill would put America at risk, along with every family and business in it," the letter said. "Your approach would force us once again to face the threat of default in five or six short months."
The Senate Democrats told Boehner economic experts have consistently warned a short-term approach "could be nearly as disastrous as a default and would lead to a downgrade in our credit rating."
Boehner's office issued a statement saying the GOP plan "is far from perfect, but it's a positive step forward that denies the president the $2.4 trillion blank check that lets him continue his spending binge through the next election," The Hill reported.
House Republicans worked to corral support for Boehner's plan as the White House pushed for compromise Wednesday. Boehner and other GOP leaders expressed confidence momentum was swinging in their direction, a day after the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said neither the Boehner plan nor the measure offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid captured as much in savings as they projected.
The CBO said Boehner's plan, which has since undergone some revision, would reduce the deficit by $850 billion over 10 years, not $1.2 trillion as Boehner had said. The CBO said Reid's plan would cut the deficit by $2.2 trillion, not $2.7 trillion as the Nevada Democrat touted.
Boehner bluntly told his caucus during a closed-door meeting Wednesday to "get your ass in line" behind his plan, two Republicans who attended the meeting told CNN.
Boehner confirmed to conservative radio show host Laura Ingraham he did, indeed, give the directive in those terms.
"I sure did," Boehner said.
He said his goal was to work with members to coalesce around his plan, which he said he intends to bring to the floor Thursday. He delayed consideration of his bill after the CBO issued its report on his two-step plan Tuesday.
Concerning rallying Republicans around his proposal, Boehner said his plan was the only alternative floating with a chance to pass both houses -- and if it's the only game available, will be signed by President Obama.
"Barack Obama hates it. Harry Reid hates it. [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi hates it," Boehner said. "Why any representative would want to be on the side of Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi [is] beyond me."
Meanwhile, White House spokesman Jay Carney said during Wednesday's media briefing that compromise was still possible to reach a package that would raise the debt ceiling and reduce underlying debt and deficit before Tuesday when the country risks default on some of its obligations.
"If you're trying to make the case that this is something that we can come together around as a country, that this is something that represents a fair compromise between Democrats and Republicans and the White House, that [Boehner's remark] it doesn't really hold up," Carney said, referring to Boehner's comment.
Obama believes the situation provides the chance to do something historic "that will require political will by Democrats and Republicans, a willingness to take heat from your base as opposed to placate your base," Carney said. "But it requires a will on both sides."
He also ripped House leaders for taking up a measure they know has no chance of passing the Senate or being signed by Obama.
Carney said all sides need to come together before the deadline and the United States loses its borrowing authority.
"While at midnight on Aug. 2 we don't all turn into pumpkins, we do, as a country, lose our borrowing authority for the first time in our history," the spokesman said. "And that would be a very bad thing. ... This is real and dangerous."
Although the CBO said Reid's plan would cut the deficit by $2.2 trillion, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, said "the true spending cuts" in Reid's plan "are closer to $1 trillion over 10 years ... while asking for a nearly $3 trillion increase in the debt limit."
"This falls far short of the idea that a dollar in cuts should accompany every dollar increase in the debt limit," Sessions said in a release.