There's still no clear path to an agreement on deficit cuts that will avert a first-ever U.S. government default in less than two weeks.
The Senate, as expected, today voted down a plan passed by the House that would bring deep cuts if Congress first passed a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.
And for now, Senate leaders are putting aside a last-ditch option that would give President Barack Obama more power to push through an increase in the debt limit.
Those moves could clear the way for private talks between Obama, House Speaker John Boehner (BAY'-nur) and others on how to avoid a U.S. government default in less than two weeks. But Boehner says so far, there's no deal -- not publicly, and not privately.
Obama told an audience at the University of Maryland that the biggest obstacle is a bloc of conservative House Republicans. He said he's still open to a deal that would bring deeper domestic spending cuts than many other Democrats would want.
Some liberals have put forward the notion that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution might give the president the ability to raise the debt limit without congressional approval. But Obama today said his lawyers are "not persuaded that that is a winning argument."
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