(Reuters) - House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid are pushing rival plans to raise the government’s borrowing limit before an August 2 deadline.
Boehner’s plan could pass the House of Representatives in what is expected to be a close vote at 6 p.m. EDT but a majority of the Democratic-controlled Senate has vowed to defeat it.
Reid could modify his plan to attract Republican support once Boehner’s bill fails in the Senate.
Here are details of the two plans:
* Boehner is advocating a two-stage strategy that would require Congress to raise the debt limit once by August 2 and then again early next year.
* Under that scenario, Congress would raise the debt limit by up to $900 billion before August 2, paired with $917 billion in cuts to annual discretionary spending over 10 years. Automatic cuts would kick in if lawmakers spend more than envisioned in coming years.
* Discretionary spending would come in at $1.043 trillion for the fiscal year that starts on October 1 — a $6 billion cut from this year’s levels but $24 billion above the level envisioned by an earlier House Republican budget plan.
* A special committee with equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats from the House and Senate would be tasked with finding at least $1.8 trillion in further savings over 10 years — from tax reform, the Medicare health program for the elderly and the disabled, other benefit programs or anywhere else in the budget.
* The committee would have until November 23 to come up with its recommendations. Congress would have to hold a yes-or-no vote by December 23. The plan would require only 51 votes in the 100-seat Senate, not the usual supermajority of 60 votes.
* If Congress approves the additional savings, President Barack Obama would be allowed to ask for a further debt-limit increase of $1.6 trillion, enough to cover the government’s borrowing needs through the presidential and congressional elections in November 2012. Congress could vote to disapprove the request but Obama could veto that disapproval.
* The plan does not explicitly rule out tax hikes but Republican leaders would not be likely to appoint members to the committee who vote for them, according to an aide.
* The House and Senate would be required by the end of the year to vote on a separate balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. That could prove uncomfortable for moderate Senate Democrats who are up for re-election next year and have backed the idea in the past.
* Reid’s plan would pair $2.2 trillion in spending cuts with a debt-ceiling increase of $2.7 trillion, enough to cover the government’s borrowing needs through the November 2012 elections.
* It would not raise taxes or change major benefit programs like Social Security and Medicare.
* It would set up a joint committee to find additional savings, similar to Boehner’s plan. The panel’s findings would get a yes-or-no vote in Congress by the end of the year.
* It would cut $751 billion from discretionary programs over 10 years.
* It envisions discretionary spending of $1.045 trillion for the coming fiscal year, only $2 billion more than the Boehner plan.
* Reid’s plan spells out specific cuts for military and security programs. Republicans have generally resisted cuts to military spending.
* It would count an anticipated $1.044 trillion reduction in war spending as savings.
* It would count $375 billion in savings from reduced interest payments.
* It envisions $13 billion in revenue from selling underused portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.
* It expects $11 billion in savings from reduced crop subsidies.
Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by John O'Callaghan