Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have a Framework

Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Right after 8:30, just as House Republicans were jumping on a conference call on which they’d be pitched on the new debt deal, Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid walked to the Senate floor to announce peace in our time.

“Today I’m relieved to say that leaders from both parties have come together for the sake of our economy to reach an historic bipartisan compromise that ends this dangerous standoff,” said Reid.

A few Democratic senators, including the party’s whip Dick Durbin, sat soberly to Reid’s side. McConnell stood along among Republicans as he promised that “before any agreement is reached, Republicans will meet to discuss the framework that the White House and congressional leaders in both parties think would meet our states efforts to cut spending more than the president’s requested debt ceiling increase, prevent a national default, and protect our economy from tax increases.”

McConnell wrapped up; he and Reid approached one another and shook hands. The Senate’s business quickly ended – no vote tonight – and the lights went off as President Obama gave his own speech pre-celebrating the deal.

“It will allow us to avoid default and allow us to end the crisis that this uncertainty has imposed on America,” he said. “This process has been messy. It has taken far too long. Nevertheless, the leaders of both parties have found their way toward a compromise.”

What happens next? Well, there’s that phone call that was going on. The Senate has a way of coming together to pass these everybody-loses deals; assembling 216 votes in the House for this deal will require John Boehner delivering a rump of Republicans who can be happy with less than they’ve voted for twice, and Democrats who are panicked about default. It’s hard but doable.

Below, you can read the opening remarks Boehner made on his conference call.

The press has been filled with reports all day about an agreement.  There’s no agreement until we’ve talked to you.  There is a framework in place that would cut spending by a larger amount than we raise the debt limit, and cap future spending to limit the growth of government.  It would do so without any job-killing tax hikes.  And it would also guarantee the American people the vote they have been denied in both chambers on a balanced budget amendment, while creating, I think, some new incentives for past opponents of a BBA to support it.

My hope would be to file it and have it on the floor as soon as possible.  I realize that’s not ideal, and I apologize for it.  But after I go through it, you’ll realize it’s pretty much the framework we’ve been operating in.

Since Day One of this Congress, we’ve gone toe-to-toe with the Obama Administration and the Democrat-controlled Senate on behalf of our people we were sent here to represent.

Remember how this all started: the White House demanded a “clean” debt limit hike with no spending cuts and reforms attached.  We stuck together, and frankly made them give up on that.

Then they shifted to demanding a “balanced” approach – equal parts spending cuts and tax hikes.  With this framework, they’ve given up on that, too.

I’m gonna tell you, this has been a long battle – we’ve fought valiantly – and frankly we’ve done it by listening to the American people.  And as a result, our framework is now on the table that will end this crisis in a manner that meets our principles of smaller government.

Now listen, this isn’t the greatest deal in the world.  But it shows how much we’ve changed the terms of the debate in this town.

There is nothing in this framework that violates our principles.  It’s all spending cuts.  The White House bid to raise taxes has been shut down.  And as I vowed back in May – when everyone thought I was crazy for saying it – every dollar of debt limit increase will be matched by more than a dollar of spending cuts.  And in doing this, we’ve stopping a job-killing national default that none of us wanted.