Durbin says lawmakers must vote to raise debt ceiling

June 1, 2011

By Alex Keefe and The Associated Press

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Illinois Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says Washington lawmakers must work out a plan to raise the nation's debt limit before August.

Scores of House Republicans met with President Barack Obama Wednesday to work out a deal. The national debt, which stands at more than $14 trillion, has become a rallying point for the House majority. They held a largely symbolic vote Tuesday in opposition to raising the debt ceiling.

But Durbin told reporters Wednesday that failing to raise the debt ceiling would send the country into default - with catastrophic results.

"I'm afraid it will raise interest rates on homes and families and businesses all across America," Durbin said. "It could trigger, in the words of Treasury Secretary [Timothy] Geithner, another recession even worse than the one we just went through."

But Durbin says both parties need to begin negotiations for long-term deficit reduction where everything is on the table.

"The entitlements, as well as revenue, as well as the spending programs - and let's come up with a reasonable way to deal with this over a long period of time," he said.

Illinois' Republican senator, Mark Kirk, has said he'd vote "no" on raising the debt limit unless lawmakers talk about cutting spending.