Pelosi Seeks More Influence in Debt Ceiling Negotiations

Nancy Pelosi, leader of the House Democrats, would like a seat at the table during deliberations over raising the nation's debt limit.

After Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) pulled out of negotiations with a bipartisan group led by Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday, the task fell to the Republican's top official in the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and the Democrats top leader in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid.

McConnell and Reid are scheduled to meet with Biden in separate meetings on Monday. Pelosi ((D-Calif.) demanded to also have a meeting to share the concerns of her caucus. House Democrats have expressed frustration with the White House for not consulting more with them.

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House Democrats were also left out of negotiations last year between the White House and the Senate that extended the Bush tax cuts through 2012. Some Democrats ended up voting for the bill to prevent a government shutdown, though they had no role in crafting the bill. Pelosi's move could be an attempt to avoid a repeat of that scenario.

Now that House Democrats are no longer in the majority, their role in the policy process is even more diminished. The minority party has less influence in the House than in the Senate. House rules more severely limit the minority party's ability to bring their own bills to the floor, or modify bills during floor debate, than in the Senate.

Pelosi argues, however, that House Republicans do not have enough votes in their own caucus to pass a bill that would raise the debt limit. Since Democratic votes are needed, Pelosi reasons that she should be part of the negotiations.

The national debt currently stands at more than $14 trillion. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner has warned that the debt ceiling needs to be raised by August 2, 2011, to prevent a default on the nation's debt obligations.

Pelosi is scheduled to appear on CNN's State of the Union with Candy Crowley at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday.

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