Gang of Six ideas could be in debt limit hike: Conrad

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 20, 2011 1:11 PM
Gang of Six ideas could be in debt limit hike: Conrad

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A $500 billion "downpayment" on long-term deficit-reduction included in a "Gang of Six" plan unveiled in the Senate could easily be included in upcoming legislation to increase U.S. borrowing authority, Senator Kent Conrad said on Wednesday.

"The process that we've outlined could be put in" to a bill raising the current $14.3 trillion debt limit, Conrad told reporters.

Senator Mark Warner, who along with Conrad is a member of the Gang of Six, is expected to meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid later on Wednesday to discuss which portions of the $3.7 trillion Gang of Six deficit-reduction plan can be merged with debt limit legislation.

It was not clear from Conrad's remarks whether the $500 billion in savings would be instead of, or in addition to the possible $1.5 trillion in savings that Reid has been talking about adding into a debt limit increase bill.

Conrad also said that the entire $3.7 trillion Gang of Six plan also "is something that could be made eligible for a vote." But again, it wasn't clear whether that vote would be set before August 2 or sometime down the road.

Reporters were unable to get clarification from Conrad because he had to cut off the hallway discussion in order to cast a vote in the Senate chamber.

Before departing, Conrad said that about 100 pages of legislative language has been developed that would implement the Gang of Six framework unveiled on Tuesday. But he also said that some major decisions still were not drafted into such language.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Sandra Maler)