Updated at 8:02 am through 6:42 pm EDT
Senate leaders appeared to be getting somewhere today, on the 14th day of a partial government shut-down, with three days left until the nation’s debt-limit is reached.
Tomorrow is another…
“I’m very optimistic that we will reach an agreement that’s reasonable in nature this week to reopen the government, pay the nation’s bills and begin long term negotiations to put our country on sound fiscal footing.”” Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said on the Senate floor this afternoon following talks with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky.
McConnell said: “I share his optimism that we’re going to get a result that will be acceptable to both sides.”
The emerging agreement among Senate leaders would suspend the debt limit through Feb. 15, 2014, fund the government through Jan. 15, 2014, and require a House-Senate conference on budget matters by Dec. 15, according to a Senate source familiar with the talks, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss them, Bloomberg’s Richard Rubin, Kathleen Hunter and Chris Strohm report.
McConnell: Good-Faith Negotiations Continue: http://t.co/8dsOutL5M6
— Sen. McConnell Press (@McConnellPress) October 14, 2013
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If there was a political calculus for Republicans to reach a deal, pressure could be seen in the polls.
This latest survey released today by ABC News and the Washington Post showed 74 percent disapproving of the way congressional Republicans are handling talks about reopening the government and raising the debt ceiling, up from 63 percent on Sept. 29, before House Republicans refused to pass a spending bill without also defunding or delaying the new health care law, which is supposed to expand insurance coverage to millions of Americans currently without it.
Bloomberg’s Jonathan Salant reports that Gary Langer, who conducted the poll, wrote that the results “clearly” leave the Republicans “ with the lion’s share of blame.”
Post-ABC poll: Republicans give mixed reviews of congressional Republicans on budget: 49% approve, 47% disapprove http://t.co/F53yih8hkR
— Post Polls (@PostPolls) October 14, 2013
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The Senate’s Republicans were planning to meet this evening to discuss the possible agreement and then pushed that meeting until tomorrow at 11 am EDT (several members had not returned to Washington from weekend travel yet) — though it remained uncertain how the House’s Republicans would react.
House Speaker John Boehner spent 25 minutes in McConnell’s office this afternoon. Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, said Senate leaders hoped to get 65 votes for an agreement to help Boehner with his caucus in the House.
If Congress does nothing, Rubin, Hunter and Strohm note, the federal government would run out of borrowing authority on Oct. 17 and start missing payments sometime between Oct. 22 and Oct. 31, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
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“Not only is it untenable for us to continue this shutdown,” Obama said today during a brief noontime appearance with volunteers preparing lunches at Martha’s Table, a charity near the White House. “If leaders don’t agree on a debt-limit extension soon, he said, “We stand a good chance of defaulting… That has to be decided this week.”
“Between elections,” the president said, “we’re supposed to be governing and not hurting the very people who elected us.”
“There’s been some progress on the Senate side,” he said in response to reporters’ questions, “with Republicans recognizing it’s not tenable, it’s not smart for the American people to let government default,.. Obviously, until the details are done… I’m going to continue to push Congress as hard as I can… We’ll see this afternoon whether this progress is real.”
President Obama helping our young volunteers with PB&J sandwiches. Looks like he is giving some good… http://t.co/vNix3uAGKP
— Martha’s Table (@MarthasTableorg) October 14, 2013
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The president had invited the leaders of both parties in the House and Senate to the White House today at 3 pm, then postponed the meeting shortly before that to allow more time for Senate leaders to talk among themselves.
Senators are having discussions along two bipartisan paths, Bloomberg’s Richard Rubin, Kathleen Hunter and Chris Strohm report. Reid and McConnell are talking as are 12 senators, led by Republican Susan Collins of Maine and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who met today.
“We’re making progress,” Collins told reporters today after the meeting. “We’re going to continue to meet throughout the day and the conversations have been very constructive.”
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) October 14, 2013
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#Shutdown on the brink etiquette: Words to avoid at any bicameral, bipartisan, two-branch meeting of the government three days from the brink of a debt-limit:
#Obamacare: Republicans may not want to say it.
#Ransom: President might like to avoid it.
#Irresponsible: Everyone is thinking it.
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The drive to avert a U.S. default hinges on talks between two top Senate leaders who have a mixed record of brokering 11th-hour agreements and find themselves increasingly at partisan loggerheads, Bloomberg’s Laura Litvan and Kathleen Hunter report.
Reid and McConnell had spoken through the weekend and continued talks today on a deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling before Oct. 17. The two lawmakers negotiated a last-minute end to 2011’s debt-limit fight and helped revive the 2008 financial bailout after the House rejected it, Litvan and Hunter note.
“At times, however, others had to step in to close the deal. McConnell worked with Vice President Joe Biden to close a 2012 agreement that preserved most of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts. During a fight this year over presidential appointments, McConnell said Reid might well “be remembered as the worst leader of the Senate ever” if he changed long-standing Senate rules. Reid didn’t.”
“Both these guys know how to cut deals, but I don’t see it right now — no,” said Jim Manley, a former top aide to Reid.
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They appear to be taking it to the brink.
Week three of the partial government shutdown opens with little sign of a congressional accord about either financing the government for fiscal 2014 or raising the nation’s $16.7-trillion debt limit — as the Treasury Department reaches the end of its extraordinary efforts to avert a default after Oct. 17.
There was some talking over the weekend — the Senate’s Democrats went to the White House to meet with President Barack Obama. Reid spoke with McConnell. Yet no agreements reached.
Following a rally of stocks on Friday at the hint of progress among the House’s Republicans — making a proposal later rejected by Obama — signs point to a nervous Monday, with stock markets open and bond markets closed for Columbus Day.
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) October 14, 2013
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Everyone wants to write the ending of this story.
Some already have started:
— Chris Hughes (@chrishughes) October 14, 2013
— Majority Report (@majorityfm) October 11, 2013
— David Lyons (@lyonsinbeta) October 13, 2013
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Gov. Chris Christie, the outspoken Republican from New Jersey, made some headlines last week when he told he Philadelphia Inquirer editorial board: “If I was in the Senate right now, I’d kill myself.”
“This is why I’ve never had any interest in being in a legislative body,” he said. (The paper noted that in the 1990s Christie was a county freeholder, which is a legislator.
”They haven’t put us on suicide watch yet,” Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat and one of a dozen senators seeking a bipartisan agreement, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” today when asked about Christie’s comment.
— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) October 14, 2013
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The Manchin-Collins group was holding out hope for an agreement) was meeting this morning, on a Columbus Day holiday that has closed most of the federal offices that weren’t already shut down.
Senate leaders of both parties were expected to continue their talks today, and the Senate would convene at 2 pm.
The House would come in at noon, with a possibility of voting on a short-term debt-limit extension today.
There was no word of any breakthrough on any front this morning.
Though, as they say, the day was young.
— SenatorSusanCollins (@SenatorCollins) October 13, 2013
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The focus has turned from the House to the Senate to produce a solution. Still, Senate leaders have yet to reach an agreement on how to end the fiscal impasse amid mounting concern in financial markets three days before the government’s borrowing authority lapses, as Bloomberg’s Michael C. Bender, Terry Atlas and Kathleen Hunter report.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday that he had a “productive conversation” with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell without reaching a conclusion on a plan to send to the Democratic-controlled chamber for a vote.
Their phone call yesterday produced “nothing new to report,” said Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell. Earlier, McConnell issued a statement saying “it’s time for Democrat leaders” to support a plan, based on one drafted by Republican Susan Collins of Maine, which Democrats rejected Oct. 12.
“The discussions were substantive and we’ll continue those discussions” Reid said on the Senate floor as the parties remained divided over federal spending levels. “I’m optimistic about the prospects for a positive conclusion.”
While optimism also was expressed by Democratic and Republican senators on Sunday television talk shows, there was little evidence to support their words as the government’s partial shutdown entered its third week and the markets are weighing the short time left to avert a U.S. default, Bender, Atlas and Hunter report.
In Asian markets, U.S. index futures fell today while the yen gained versus the dollar, snapping a four-day slump. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures lost 0.9 percent by 8:11 a.m. in Tokyo, erasing last week’s gain.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) October 12, 2013
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When Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told the Senate Finance Committee last week that the Obama administration would never bargain over raising the nation’s debt limit, it was a declaration the lawmakers had heard before.
Lew, the administration’s point man for pressing Congress to raise the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling, has been making the same case privately on Capitol Hill for months, lawmakers say, as he has publicly in speeches and on Sunday talk shows. His determination to stay on message has frustrated Republicans hungry for a deal, Bloomberg’s Ian Katz and Chris Strohm report.
He’s “an implacable negotiator” who is “ideologically committed to protecting every big-government gain,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican, said in an interview. Administration officials “can all go and play a round of golf, and they know he’s not going to agree to anything.”
Lew, 58, has led President Barack Obama’s drive to separate the debt ceiling from other issues that are subject to political deal-making, a position that may change as congressional Democrats and Republicans negotiate how to end the impasse and increase the borrowing limit.
The administration is concerned that protracted negotiations on raising the debt limit to pay bills already approved by Congress will undermine the economy and raise investor doubts about U.S. creditworthiness.
“The full faith and credit of the United States is not a bargaining chip,” Lew told the Senate finance panel at the Oct. 10 hearing in which his testimony varied little from the arguments he’s made over the past two months.
“Please, let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot,” Jamie Dimon to Washington: http://t.co/sRiYGME4zK
— Bloomberg TV (@BloombergTV) October 14, 2013
It is our Twitter question of the day. We want to hear from you! How do you plan for default?
— Bloomberg SURV (@bsurveillance) October 14, 2013
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The stock market may be wary of what’s going on in Washington, but experts say the bond markets are not predicting a default of any U.S. debt
Finance chiefs from nations holding more than $1.3 trillion of Treasuries have signaled no plans to sell even as the U.S. faced condemnation for the fiscal fight plaguing the world’s largest economy, as Bloomberg’s Simon Kennedy. Aki Ito and Alaa Shahine report.
Policy makers from Japan, India, Russia and Saudi Arabia expressed faith in the ability of the U.S. to pay its bills as the potential for default dominated the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which ended yesterday in Washington.
“There’s no other way than for the U.S. government itself and the U.S. Congress to sort it out,” Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso told Bloomberg Television’s Sara Eisen. Fahad Almubarak, chief of Saudi Arabia’s central bank, told reporters that “the U.S. current crisis will go away and we think its effect won’t be lasting on our investments.”
The combination of criticism and confidence was echoed by Pacific Investment Management Co.’s Chief Executive Officer Mohamed El-Erian, who said the manager of the world’s biggest bond fund is still holding short-term Treasuries in anticipation of lawmakers increasing the $16.7 trillion U.S. debt ceiling.
“When push comes to shove there will be an agreement,” El-Erian told a financial industry conference during the International Monetary Fund meeting in Washington over the weekend. A default would “trigger failures” in collateral markets and “be a big blow to the economy,” he said.
International cooperation is precisely what is needed at this time to forge a better future– we need to keep the momentum going #188together
— Christine Lagarde (@Lagarde) October 13, 2013
Infantile posturing by House extremists is causing allies to doubt our commitments abroad, damaging global stability and our foreign policy
— Zbigniew Brzezinski (@zbig) October 14, 2013
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The shutdown started as a standoff between House Republicans, who wanted to defund, delay or declaw the president’s signature health-care law.
They have since given up on that goal, though Republicans insist they will find ways to rein in the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, which is designed to cover people lacking health insurance. Democrats say the Republicans have manufactured a crisis.
Obamacare is no longer Republicans’ #1 issue. Their #1 issue is to divert attention from the fools they’ve made of themselves on Obamacare.
— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) October 12, 2013
So this is curious:
Republicans represent more congressional districts with below-average health-insurance coverage than Democrats, an irony ensnared in a government shutdown triggered by a law designed to expand access to care, Bloomberg’s John McCormick and Greg Giroux report today.
Districts with less coverage are especially common in Texas, where each of the 36 House seats represents an area with a rate lower than the national average, according to U.S. Census Bureau data compiled by Bloomberg. The state, home to “Obama-care” opponent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, also has the nation’s highest uninsured rate.
In addition to the South, Western states dominate the map of congressional districts with below-average coverage rates.
Besides often being under Republican control, those areas also tend to have sizable immigrant populations and poverty.
The mismatch between the policy votes of the districts’ federal representatives and the needs of their constituents may be partly the result of voter registration and turnout patterns.
“The constituents that they respond to are not the ones without health insurance,” said Eric Heberlig, a political scientist at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. “The constituents that voted for them and show up at their town-hall meetings are more of the higher-income voters who have health-care insurance and are more conservative in their ideology and don’t want additional government programs that they perceive as benefiting the poor.”
Among the nation’s 435 congressional districts, 207 have coverage levels below the national insurance average of 85.3 percent for the non-institutionalized civilian population, the Census data shows. Of those, 105 are held by Republicans, while Democrats represent 100 and two are vacant. The rankings are based on the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey, which includes margins of error for each district.