U.S. negotiations on fiscal deal intensify in Senate

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) addresses reporters after meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington. Credit: Reuters
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) addresses reporters after meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington.
Credit: Reuters

Congressional negotiations to end a U.S. fiscal crisis that has gripped Washington and spooked financial markets hung by a thread on Saturday after they broke down in the House of Representatives and were in preliminary stages in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, laid down tough markers not long after he held an initial session with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, leaving some doubt over whether the two men can reach an agreement to end a partial government shutdown now in its 12th day.

“We need to have compromise but we are not going to do that until the government reopens and we pay our bills,” Reid warned.

Immediately after his news conference, Reid and other Senate Democratic leaders rushed to the White House for meetings with President Barack Obama.

Lawmakers are scrambling to put hundreds of thousands of federal employees back to work after their failure to fund the government resulted in a partial shutdown on October 1. They also are staring down a Thursday deadline, when the Treasury Department has warned the United States could default on its debt for the first time in history unless the nation’s borrowing limit is raised by then.

Mindful of the debt limit deadline, Reid told reporters he would like to cut a deal “now.”

“When I say ‘now,’ I mean in the next 48 hours,” he said.

Senator Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat, said the goal is to reach a bipartisan deal in the Senate before financial markets reopen on Monday.

But the road to a deal appeared difficult, as Reid dismissed Republican Senator Susan Collins’ plan to extend the U.S. debt limit until January 31 and to fund the government for another six months. That plan had given some moderate lawmakers hopes for a quick deal, but Democrats said it was saddled with too many objectionable add-ons.

The “preliminary” Reid-McConnell negotiations – at 9 a.m. Saturday in Reid’s office – were launched one day after Obama rejected a proposal by House Republicans for a short-term increase in the debt limit to November 22.

Democrats warned that such a small increase in borrowing authority would simply lead to another round of bitter confrontations in Congress and could choke off consumer confidence just as the Christmas buying season would be getting underway.

The flurry of action in the Senate came as House Speaker John Boehner informed his fellow Republicans in a private meeting that the White House had rejected its proposals and there likely would be no more ideas delivered to Obama now that attention was shifting to Senate negotiations.

‘GOOD MEETING’

McConnell maintained a low profile in the Capitol, mostly shunning questions. “We had a good meeting” was all he would say to questions shouted by reporters in a second-floor hallway of the Senate.

While some senators were hopeful now that Reid and McConnell were negotiating, no clear path to a deal was evident.

“Senator Reid and Senator McConnell are talking to each other for the first time and that’s good,” Republican Senator Roy Blunt said.

Even if senators craft a proposal to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling, at least some Republican support will be needed to pass it in the House. That support is far from guaranteed, especially if the Senate deal does not include any new attacks on Obama’s health care reform law.

With every passing day, according to opinion polls, Americans’ patience has worn thin with Republicans’ tactics that led to the government shutdown, enhancing prospects of a deal.

As Senate leaders tried to craft a deal, many House members headed to their home districts, having been informed that there would be no votes before Monday evening.

“I was optimistic yesterday morning,” David French, the chief lobbyist for the National Retail Federation, told Reuters on Saturday. “I’m a little less optimistic today and so are folks I’ve talked to” on Capitol Hill.

Companies and trade associations have been stepping up their efforts on Capitol Hill as the debt ceiling deadline approaches.

Retailers are particularly concerned about going into a holiday season with debt ceiling jitters hanging over the economy.

Beyond that, French said: “They’re concerned about Washington. They’re concerned about the level of dysfunction. Our members do not like lurching from crisis to crisis without hope of a resolution.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Easter 2014: The year's best bonnets

It's Easter, and that means it's time for Fifth Avenue to turn into a veritable catwalk of bonnet-wearers. The annual march, which kicks off at…

Local

Woman arrested for attempted kidnapping of baby in…

Authorities said that a Queens woman behind an attempted kidnapping of an 8-month-old baby boy was arrested on Saturday.

Local

Hate crime charge in attack on Sikh Columbia…

A man has been arrested and charged with a hate crime after he allegedly pulled the beard of a Sikh Columbia University professor as part…

Local

NYPD arrest man after finding body inside plastic…

Police said they found a man stuffed inside a plastic container in a Brooklyn home. Authorities arrested Joshua Simser, 24, in connection to the death

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

The Word

Miley Cyrus cancels more dates, tweeting from hospital

Miley Cyrus is reportedly so sick that she's had to postpone more tour dates. We know this because she has been sitting in a hospital…

Music

Loop are, er, um, back in the loop

Experimental noise rock band Loop's three mid-1980s to early-1990s albums, “Heavens End,” “Fade Out” and “A Gilded Eternity,” were mercifully reissued.

NHL

Rangers blow two-goal lead in Game 2 loss…

The Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead in Game 2 and the Garden was rocking. But it went downhill quickly from there.

NBA

Deron Williams leads Nets over Raptors in Game…

The Nets traveled to a raucous Air Canada Centre but came out with an important Game 1 victory over the Raptors.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.