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Warner: There Are 70 Votes in U.S. Senate for Debt Deal

Nov. 8, 2012 - 11:27AM   |  
By JOHN T. BENNETT   |   Comments
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., told a forum in Washington on Nov. 8 that a massive deal with spending cuts, new revenues and entitlement program reforms could garner ample votes from both political parties to pass the Senate.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., told a forum in Washington on Nov. 8 that a massive deal with spending cuts, new revenues and entitlement program reforms could garner ample votes from both political parties to pass the Senate. (File)
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A comprehensive deal that would dramatically lower America’s massive federal debt and stave off massive defense cuts would get 70 votes in the Senate, says a key member of that chamber’s Budget Committee.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., told a forum in Washington on Nov. 8 that a massive deal with spending cuts, new revenues and entitlement program reforms could garner ample votes from both political parties to pass the Senate.

Lawmakers in coming months must pass a $1.2 trillion debt-reduction measure and extend some tax cuts, or the nation will plunge into a new recession, economists say.

What’s more, shy of that kind of deal, twin $500 billion cuts to planned defense and domestic spending would kick in Jan. 2. Pentagon officials, lawmakers and analysts warn those defense cuts — made by cutting around 9 percent from a few non-exempt accounts — would harm national security.

Warner said there is enough support in both parties of his chamber to pass a deal that includes “spending cuts, revenues and entitlement reforms.”

Congressional Republicans had for nearly two years voiced stern opposition to any new federal revenues, buoyed by the party’s anti-tax stance. But that might be changing, at least while lawmakers and the Obama White House are negotiating a big debt deal.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Nov. 7 that his caucus is “willing to accept some revenues,” but only under certain circumstances.

While Boehner sounds willing to talk about cutting a deal, it is clear Republicans and Democrats remain far apart on issues such as defense cuts.

In his remarks, the House speaker ruled them out of any deal his caucus would support. But Warner said some level of additional defense cuts are necessary to reach debt-reduction targets set by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

The former Virginia governor — and potential 2016 presidential candidate, some say — warned against Senate Democratic leaders pushing through legislation that would pass with “56 Democrats and six Republicans.”

What’s preferable to Warner and members of both parties who have been working in near-secret to begin building a comprehensive debt deal is a bill that passes with a nearly equal number of Republicans and Democrats, he said.

“This will have to be something where people on both sides,” Warner said, “are mad about it.”

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