Debt Deadline Vote Could Come Tonight

WASHINGTON (AP) - Leaders of the House and Senate say votes could come as early as this evening on the deficit-cutting plan that's expected to avert a government default on its debts.

The office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says the House vote will come first. One House Republican says lawmakers will know by this afternoon whether Speaker John Boehner has the votes to pass it in the House, where conservatives have been more resistant to the compromise.

But despite resistance from liberals and conservatives, momentum appears to be building in support of the plan.

Vice President Joe Biden has been on Capitol Hill today to sell the plan in separate meetings with House and Senate Democrats.

President Barack Obama sent out a video message to Democratic lawmakers, saying that it's been a "long and messy process"-- and that "as with any compromise, the outcome is far from satisfying."

Among the Republicans who plan to vote no are South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who says it "locks us into more debt."

Republicans are also voicing concerns about potential cuts to defense spending.

The legislation would slice more than $2 trillion from federal spending over a decade and permit the nation's $14.3 trillion borrowing cap to rise by up to $2.4 trillion.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney opposes the deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling.

The former Massachusetts governor says the compromise, backed by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders in both parties, opens the door to higher taxes and defense cuts. Romney opposes anything other than the House Republican "cut, cap and balance" approach that required Congress to send a balanced budget amendment to the states.

Romney has been criticized for silence on the issue. His statement is his first on the high-stakes negotiations in several days.

Romney joins fellow presidential contender, Michele Bachmann, in opposing the deal.

Wall Street's relief rally over the debt agreement hasn't lasted long. After about 30 minutes of gains today, stocks switched direction and moved lower. This, after the Institute of Supply Management said its manufacturing index fell. The report comes one trading day after the government said the economy grew at an annual rate of just 1.3 percent from April through June.

There's also word that builders began work on more office buildings, shopping centers and hotels in June, pushing construction spending higher for a third straight month. But even with the gains, activity remains at depressed levels. The Commerce Department says construction spending rose 0.2 percent in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $772.3 billion.