Nightly News | August 01, 2011
WILLIAMS: And good evening from Capitol Hill in Washington .
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor (Washington, DC): Before we tell you the latest from here, listen to this. The people at Pew Research , who call Americans to conduct opinion polls every week, are reporting something new this week. Over 70 percent of the folks they reach by phone are offering their own words to describe Congress . The pollsters tell us Americans are using words like ridiculous, disgusting, stupid, childish, disappointing, and a joke to describe their elected representatives. Only 2 percent of the American people like what they've seen going on here in
Washington, and they say everyone's been tarnished: the president, the speaker, on down. They do have a deal, they're just not all agreed on it yet, and the deadline for that debt ceiling financial disaster still looms tomorrow. For a read on where we are tonight, let's go right behind us here on the Hill . NBC 's Kelly O'Donnell . Kelly , good evening.
KELLY O'DONNELL reporting: Hi there, Brian . Well, the House is actually voting tonight. And while leaders in both parties signed off on the deal, members in both parties aren't quite as pleased about it. To give you an idea, the vice president was caught up in a meeting with House Democrats where some liberal members were particularly angry, throwing around terms like "terrorist" and "hostage takers," referring to the tea party . Now, the vice president, in an interview, says he wasn't using those words. But you get the idea, it was pretty tense. Joe Biden the closer.
Vice President JOE BIDEN:
O'DONNELL: The vice president met privately for hours with House and Senate Democrats to take the heat and cool some tempers.
Vice Pres. BIDEN: My sense is that they expressed....
Offscreen Voice: Shh.
Vice Pres. BIDEN: ...they expressed all their frustration, which I'd be frustrated if I was sitting there as well, that we're -- the way we came -- taken down to the wire like this.
O'DONNELL: Frustration is a polite word for what some liberals feel.
Representative PETER WELCH (Democrat, Vermont): This bill is a baby only its mother could love.
O'DONNELL: Upset about cuts to social programs.
Senator BERNIE SANDERS (Democrat, Vermont): So many people are struggling just to keep their heads above water economically. This deficit reduction package is going to slap them at the side of the head.
O'DONNELL: This deal raises the debt ceiling in stages through 2013 , reduces the deficit by $917 billion over 10 years. To get there, the deal cuts about 1 trillion in spending right away, from defense and other federal agencies. To find more savings, another 1.5 trillion, Congress launches a new bipartisan super committee to come up with recommendations by November. If Congress fails to pass those by the end of the year, then automatic across-the-board spending cuts kick in. Today House Republican leaders had contained much of their members' resistance.
Representative ERIC CANTOR (Republican, Majority Leader): ...that although not perfect, will begin to change the culture here in Washington .
O'DONNELL: Republicans had wanted more sweeping entitlement reforms, and many don't like the size of defense cuts. Speaker John Boehner personally tried to reassure them.
Representative JOHN BOEHNER: I just met with all the members of our Armed Services Committee . They clearly have some concerns about the defense numbers in this bill. But as I told them, these -- this is the best defense number we're going to get.
O'DONNELL: And the House Republican leaders are telling their members to vote yes, but Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi was just on the floor and she said she would encourage her members to vote yes but would understand if they voted no. And, Brian , we expect the Senate will vote tomorrow, but as you can see, a deal is not quite a deal just yet.
WILLIAMS: Well, as they say here, here we go again . Kelly O'Donnell starting us off on Capitol Hill .