Reid And McConnell Cite ‘Progress’ As Default Deadline Looms
By Bill Chappell
The House and Senate were in session on Columbus Day, the 14th day of the federal government shutdown. A meeting that had been arranged between President Obama, Vice President Biden and the four main leaders of Congress was postponed, as the White House cited the progress being made in negotiations.
The latest word of a possible deal calls for raising the federal debt limit through Feb. 15 and funding a return to work for the government through Jan. 15. We'll update this post as more news comes in.
Over the weekend, senators from both parties assumed key roles in the negotiations, after House Republicans and the White House failed to reach an agreement.
Update at 6:10 p.m. ET: Reid Sees 'Tremendous Progress'
"We know this has been a difficult time for everyone," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said of the budget debate, adding that he and Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell have been working toward a solution.
Reid said there would be no Senate votes on a possible deal Monday night.
"We've made tremendous progress. We're not there yet," Reid said. "But tremendous progress. And everyone just needs to be patient."
"We've had a good day," McConnell said, speaking in turns with Reid. "I think it's safe to say we've made substantial progress."
"Perhaps tomorrow will be a bright day," Reid said. "We're not there yet; we hope we will be."
Reid finished his remarks by saying, "Everybody understand, we're doing the very best we can with all the frailties that we have, as people and legislators."
Update at 4:30 p.m. ET: Leaders See Progress; Possible Deal Described
Citing "a source familiar with the negotiations," Reuters reports on the framework of a possible deal, saying it would "extend U.S. borrowing authority at least through mid-February and provide government funding until mid-January to end a two-week government shutdown."
The Washington Post is reporting the same provisions, which remain tentative at this point.
Earlier Monday, Majority Leader Harry M. Reid, D-Nev., said on the Senate floor, "Constructive, good-faith negotiations continue between the Republican leader and me. I am very optimistic; we will reach an agreement that's reasonable in nature this week."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., echoed Reid's sentiment, saying, "I share his optimism that we're going to get a result that will be acceptable to both sides."
Update at 2:45 p.m. ET: Meeting Postponed
Saying that it wants to "allow leaders in the Senate time to continue making important progress towards a solution that raises the debt limit and reopens the government," the White House has announced that a meeting with congressional leaders planned for 3 p.m. has been postponed.
Update at 11:55 a.m. ET: Leaders Of Congress Will Talk With Obama
President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will meet with Majority Leader Harry Reid, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Boehner and House Minority Leader Pelosi at 3 p.m. ET today, the White House has announced.
Our original post continues:
President Obama and Congress have until Thursday, Oct. 17, to reach a deal averting a potential credit default by the U.S. government, which has been in shutdown mode since the start of the new financial year this month.
Over the weekend, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his Republican counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, had at least two private meetings to discuss possible solutions to the impasse.
"The discussions were substantive, and we'll continue those discussions," Reid said in the Senate Sunday. "I'm optimistic about the prospects for a positive conclusion."
Without an increase in the borrowing limit that's currently set at $16.7 trillion, the government will be scraping to find money to meet its financial obligations, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says. And those needs will be particularly dire at the start of next month, as Nancy Marshall-Genzer reports for Marketplace:
"The U.S. has some huge payouts on November 1 — to Social Security recipients, Medicare providers — as well as its obligations to its troops. The country also needs money to keep running the parts of government that are still open — like the FAA and Justice Department."
On Sunday, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the United States' inability to get its financial house in order could bring "massive disruption the world over."
Speaking on Meet the Press, Lagarde told NBC's David Gregory that long-term solutions, not accounting tricks, were the answer to America's problems.
"When you are the largest economy in the world, when you are the safe haven in all circumstances, as has been the case, you can't go into that creative accounting business," she said.
On today's Morning Edition, NPR's David Welna looks at how the debt ceiling became "a nuclear-tipped leverage point."
Other developments over the weekend included:
- Sequestration returned as an item of contention; the next cuts are scheduled for Jan. 15.
- Leading Senate Democrats dismissed a compromise proposal by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Me., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, that would fund the government through March and raised the debt limit through January.
- Thousands of demonstrators, including military veterans, took down barriers at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall Sunday.
- The Senate rejected a bill to raise the debt ceiling through the end of 2014 on Saturday.