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
National

New statue of Penn State's Paterno set for…

By David DeKokHARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Fundraising for a new statue depicting Joe Paterno "as the man he was and not Joe the football coach"…

National

On newly released tape, 'Squeaky' Fromme says was…

Manson Family member Squeaky Fromme told a mental health examiner in newly released interview the "X" she carved in her forehead was meant to separate her from "the system."

Local

New York-based Century 21 store coming to The…

The former Strawbridge & Clothier building will once again host a department store. City officials on Thursday announced New York-based Century 21 Department Stores will…

National

Electric Zoo tickets on sale Tuesday as festival…

Electric Zoo tickets go on sale Tuesday. The festival announced plans to amp up security after two attendees died last year from apparent drug overdoses.

Movies

Tribeca: 'Goodbye to All That' star Paul Schneider…

Paul Schneider talks about his new film "Goodbye to All That," not acting too much and how he'd rather indulge in simple pleasures than play the scene.

The Word

Taylor Swift battles paparazzi daily at Tribeca penthouse

We're entranced by these photos of poor Taylor Swift leaving her Tribeca apartment.

Movies

Tribeca: Nikki Reed on going funny for a…

"Intramural" star Nikki Reed talks about being the straight person in a broad comedy, spending time in Austin and how "Thirteen" was a "miracle."

Movies

Interview: 'The Quiet Ones' star Sam Claflin on…

"Hunger Games" co-star Sam Claflin talks about his new horror film "The Quiet Ones," plus how technology connects him with fans.

MLB

The return of Cole Hamels brings optimism

Cole Hamels’ quality start Wednesday was a nice change of pace from his recent season debuts.

MLB

Tony Gwynn Jr. a nice surprise for Phillies

Tony Gwynn Jr. has been a plus in every way for the Phillies.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

MLB

5 infamous pitcher ejections for cheating

Never fear Yankees fans, Michael Pineda is far from the first MLB pitcher to be thrown out of a game for cheating.

Food

Hai Street Kitchen opening in Rittenhouse May 22

Japanese cuisine will get a Chipotle-style twist at Hai Street Kitchen & Co., a new casual, quick-food restaurant opening near Rittenhouse Square on May 22.…

Parenting

New study: Inside the wage gap between boys…

According to a new study, there's a wage gap between boys and girls, with boys earning more allowance for less chores.

Tech

From Apple TV to Fire TV, big changes…

Apple is set to launch a new generation of it's Apple TV, which grossed over $1 billion in 2013. But competition from Amazon and Google looms.

Style

Katy Perry releases a new Claire’s collection

Katy Perry expands her empire by releasing an accessories collection at Claire's.