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

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.