Evan Vucci / AP
Published Monday, Oct. 14, 2013 | 11:41 a.m.
Updated Monday, Oct. 14, 2013 | 12:04 p.m.
There was lots of positive talk coming from Senate leaders today as they continued to shuttle between offices, hashing out the particulars of a deal to restore federal government funding and raise the debt limit.
But the closest estimate either could give as to when they might complete their work is “this week.”
“I’m very optimistic we will reach an agreement that’s reasonable in nature this week,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, opening the Senate floor this afternoon.
“I share [Reid’s] optimism that we are going to get a result that is acceptable to both sides,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell added.
There are two spheres of negotiations continuing on Capitol Hill: Reid and McConnell are driving talks at the leadership level, while a group of rank-and-file Democrats — including Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Mark Pryor, D-Ark., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Angus King, I-Me., Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Joe Manchin, D-W.V. — continue to talk with moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins, R-Me., and other Republicans about a compromise.
Late last week, Collins proposed a framework to extend the debt limit for six months in exchange for certain conditions. Among them: a temporary repeal of the medical device tax that partially funds Obamacare, an income verification procedure for anyone seeking to qualify for health care subsidies on the exchanges and a cap on spending that respects the low, sequester-induced contraction of the federal budget. Democratic leaders rejected it as written on Saturday, but talks continue.
The epicenter of deal-making is in the Senate, after short-lived talks between the president and House Speaker John Boehner and his Republican leadership team appeared to break down late last week.
According to some reports over the weekend, House leaders are now considering introducing their own short-term measure to avoid hitting the debt limit and defaulting on the U.S.’s obligations. But that measure, if it materializes, would be separate from the matters being considered in Senate circles.
Today is day 14 of the government shutdown; the country is expected to meet its borrowing limit on Thursday.