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White House Holds Back on Veto Threat for Boehner Bill

The White House on Tuesday did not specifically say whether President Obama would veto House Speaker John Boehner's deficit-reduction bill, an omission Republicans seized upon as they charged ahead with a new plan to cut spending and raise the debt ceiling.

"He did not say he'd veto it," Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said, after a closed-door meeting of House Republicans Tuesday morning.

Boehner also declared that the plan, which could be on the floor as early as Wednesday and calls for $3 trillion in deficit reduction, can pass both chambers. "I hope the president will consider signing it into law," he said.

The expressions of confidence come just two days after White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley said the president would veto a plan that does not extend U.S. borrowing authority into 2013 -- the first phase of Boehner's plan would not fulfill that requirement.

But the White House has not issued a formal veto threat, as it did with House Republicans' earlier proposal.

Gene Sperling, head of the president's National Economic Council, told Fox News only that Obama "would not accept something that ... left a cloud of default over our economy."

Sperling made clear that the White House does not expect to be faced with a veto decision. After the White House praised the Democrats' approach on Monday, Sperling said Tuesday that both parties' bills will probably face "stalemate."

"Neither are likely to pass both houses," he said. Sperling said negotiators are still "very close to a bipartisan deal."

But House Republican Leader Eric Cantor said Tuesday that, with no formal plan out of the White House, Congress has only three options -- miss the Aug. 2 deadline and risk the possibility of default, pass the Democratic plan drafted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid or pass the House GOP plan.

Cantor called Reid's plan a "blank check." House Republicans have put Boehner's bill in the shell of a Senate measure to expedite Senate consideration, and plan to consider it in committee Tuesday afternoon.

Moments later, Reid accused Republicans of having "multiple personalities," claiming his plan incorporates a lot from "the Republican playbook." He reiterated his opposition to the short-term extension included in the GOP plan.

The tough rhetoric on both sides flew in the face of Obama's call for a deal in an address to the nation Monday night. The speaker and president sparred in paired addresses over the measures needed to avoid the potential of the U.S. defaulting on its loans.

The one-to-one addresses were unusual, even to the speaker, who said after his speech, "I didn't sign up for going mano-a-mano with the president of the United States."

Reid is meanwhile holding back on his bill, keeping it as a "fallback when Boehner's (bill) fails," according to a Democratic official. All the while, lawmakers apparently are continuing to hold bipartisan talks -- but the separate votes in each chamber are not helping, Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl told Fox News.

Kyl said the votes serve to further polarize the parties. Indeed, candidates and lawmakers rallied behind their respective party leaders after the Monday night addresses.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi repeated Obama's claim that Democrats back a "balanced" approach, saying Boehner's plan "does not meet this test."

Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, a presidential candidate, said that "balanced" approach is just "code for higher taxes and spending." Bachmann vowed not to raise the debt limit, calling on Congress to simply cut spending.

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