Senate deal on U.S. debt limit emerging as time runs short

Boehner Options

A Senate agreement would again put pressure on House Speaker John Boehner, who has a 232-200 Republican majority. He may have to decide whether to side with hardliners insistent on changes to Obamacare or rely on Democratic votes to pass a bipartisan Senate plan through the House.

House Republicans also may consider making changes and sending the plan back to the Senate.

Reid and McConnell may release the plan’s details as early as today. Any one senator could push a final vote until at least Oct. 18, after the debt ceiling is breached though before the U.S. runs out of cash and begins missing payments between Oct. 22 and Oct. 31.

House Republicans were meeting at 9 a.m. in the Capitol and may consider separate debt-limit legislation on the floor. Senators will meet in party caucuses.

“We’ve not made any decision,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican, said yesterday. “We are going to meet with our members in the morning to determine the best path forward.”

‘Do More’

Representative Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the House Budget Committee, today said the budget provision included in the Senate plan isn’t enough to resolve the fiscal impasse.

“You need to do more than that,” Ryan told reporters as he walked into the meeting of House Republicans.

Benchmark Treasury 10-year yields rose two basis points, or 0.02 percentage point, to 2.71% at 9:05 a.m. New York time, according to Bloomberg Bond Trader prices. The rate touched 2.74%, the highest since Sept. 23.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index gained 0.8% at 7:57 a.m. in New York in the longest winning streak in two months. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.2% to 1,707.53 at 9:31 a.m.

‘Positive Comments’

“We had very positive comments from the Senate leaders, and if you take those comments at face value, a deal looks fairly imminent,” Otto Waser, chief investment officer at R&A Research & Asset Management AG in Zurich, said by telephone today. “The market is back to the levels it was at before the entire crisis talks started.”

Reid and McConnell, veteran Senate deal makers, are brokering the agreement, reached during conversations that started over the weekend. Democrats want as long a debt-limit increase as possible and as short a government funding extension at Republican-preferred levels. Republicans want the opposite.

Possible sticking points late yesterday included whether Democrats would agree to Republican demands that the Treasury Department be barred from using so-called extraordinary measures to extend the debt-limit deadline after Feb. 7.

Such maneuvers pushed forward the deadline for five months this year, though it’s not clear how much time they would buy in 2014.

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