(Reuters) - House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid unveiled dueling plans on Monday as Congress struggled to find a way to raise the government’s borrowing limit before an August 2 deadline.
Dueling votes are expected as soon as Wednesday.
Here are details of the two plans:
* Boehner is advocating a two-stage strategy that would require Congress to raise the debt limit again early next year.
* Under that scenario, Congress would raise the debt limit by up to $1 trillion before August 2, paired with $1.2 trillion in cuts to annual discretionary spending over 10 years. Automatic cuts would kick in if lawmakers spend more than envisioned in coming years.
* A special committee made up of equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats from the House and Senate would be tasked with finding at least $1.8 trillion in further savings — from the tax code, Medicare and 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 an up-or-down vote by December 23. The plan would only require 51 votes in the 100-seat Senate, not the usual 60 votes.
* If Congress approves the additional savings, Obama would be allowed to ask for a further debt-limit increase of $1.6 trillion, enough to cover the nation’s borrowing needs through the November 2012 elections. 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 who vote for them, according to an aide.
* The House and Senate would be required to hold a separate up or down vote on a 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.
* Would pair $2.7 trillion in cuts with a debt-ceiling increase large enough to last through the November 2012 elections.
* Would not raise taxes or change major benefit programs like Social Security and Medicare.
* Would set up a joint committee to find additional savings, similar to Boehner’s plan. The committee’s findings would get an up-or-down vote in Congress by the end of the year.
* Would cut $1.2 trillion from discretionary programs over 10 years. Democrats had been pushing for a lower figure, around $900 billion.
* Would count an anticipated $1 trillion reduction in war spending as savings as well, reflecting an approach taken by the Obama administration and House Republicans in their budget plans.
* Would count $400 billion in savings from reduced interest payments
* $100 billion in cuts to benefit programs and other spending that normally lies beyond the reach of the annual budget cycle. These include:
- $40 billion from tougher tax enforcement and reducing fraud in healthcare and unemployment programs
- $30 billion from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
- $15 billion from selling underused portions of the electromagnetic spectrum and reforms to a fund that makes telephone service more widely available
- $10 billion to $15 billion from reduced crop subsidies
Reporting by Richard Cowan and Andy Sullivan; Editing by Eric Walsh