Senate Leaders Express Optimism That They Are Nearing Agreement

Obama speaks about the economy on July 11, 2011.
National Journal
Billy House and Elahe Izadi
See more stories about...
Billy House Elahe Izadi
Oct. 14, 2013, 8:30 a.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama and con­gres­sion­al lead­ers ab­ruptly post­poned a planned Monday af­ter­noon meet­ing as the top Sen­ate Demo­crat and Re­pub­lic­an re­por­ted mu­tu­al op­tim­ism to be­ing close to a deal on lift­ing the debt ceil­ing and re­open­ing the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment.

Just three days re­main un­til Thursday’s dead­line for the gov­ern­ment to run out of au­thor­ity to bor­row money. The mar­kets briefly jumped after Sen­ate lead­ers said they were op­tim­ist­ic a deal was near, with the Dow Jones spik­ing by about 30 points.

Con­gres­sion­al lead­ers who were set to at­tend the 3 p.m. Monday meet­ing at the White House — an­nounced earli­er in the day — in­cluded Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id and Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell, along with House Speak­er John Boehner and Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi.

But both Re­id and Mc­Con­nell made short state­ments an hour be­fore the White House meet­ing was set to be­gin, say­ing they are very hope­ful.

“I am very op­tim­ist­ic we will reach an agree­ment this week,” Re­id said.

And Mc­Con­nell said that over the past couple of days, “[we’ve had] a very con­struct­ive ex­change of views. Those dis­cus­sions con­tin­ue, and I share his op­tim­ism we’re go­ing to get an agree­ment in a reas­on­able peri­od of time.”

The White House con­firmed the meet­ing delay in or­der “to al­low lead­ers in the Sen­ate time to con­tin­ue mak­ing im­port­ant pro­gress to­wards a solu­tion that raises the debt lim­it and re­opens the gov­ern­ment.” But Sen­ate aides and the White House provided no in­dic­a­tion of when it may be res­ched­uled.

Re­id vis­ited Mc­Con­nell’s of­fice mul­tiple times Monday, with the hopes of ham­mer­ing out an agree­ment ahead of the af­ter­noon White House meet­ing.

“They are in­volved in good faith ne­go­ti­ations, and those talks will con­tin­ue,” says Mc­Con­nell spokes­man Don Stew­art.

Mc­Con­nell said they’ve had “a couple of very use­ful dis­cus­sions.”

Ac­cord­ing to a White House of­fi­cial, Obama had in­ten­ded at the meet­ing to “[make] clear the need for Con­gress to act to pay our bills, and re­open the gov­ern­ment,” and that he also said he would “re­it­er­ate our prin­ciples to the lead­ers: We will not pay a ransom for Con­gress re­open­ing the gov­ern­ment and rais­ing the debt lim­it.”

Monday in­cluded a num­ber of huddles that took place in the Cap­it­ol. A bi­par­tis­an group of 12 sen­at­ors met at 9 a.m., in­clud­ing Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., ac­cord­ing to a Sen­ate Demo­crat­ic aide.

The meet­ing was part of con­tin­ued ne­go­ti­ations around a plan presen­ted by Collins to fund the gov­ern­ment for six months at an an­nu­al­ized se­quester-level rate of $986 bil­lion. It would also ex­tend the debt ceil­ing through Jan. 31, 2014, and dir­ect an im­me­di­ate Sen­ate and House con­fer­ence on a budget, with con­fer­ees re­quired to re­port by Jan. 15.

The plan pro­posed by Collins also would delay the 2.3 per­cent med­ic­al-device ex­cise tax for two years. To off­set the cost of re­peal­ing that tax es­tab­lished by the Af­ford­able Care Act on such things as pace­makers and de­fib­ril­lat­ors, the plan would ex­tend “pen­sion smooth­ing” pro­vi­sions passed in 2012 as part of a fed­er­al high­way bill.

In ad­di­tion, the plan presen­ted by Collins also in­cluded in­come-veri­fic­a­tion pro­vi­sions so that only eli­gible in­di­vidu­als re­ceive sub­sidies un­der the new in­sur­ance ex­changes. And it would provide fed­er­al agen­cies with flex­ib­il­ity to mit­ig­ate the im­pact of the se­quester cuts, with over­sight of those moves by the House and Sen­ate com­mit­tees of jur­is­dic­tion. 

Collins, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and oth­er Re­pub­lic­ans met with Mc­Con­nell later in the morn­ing. “The fo­cus is on the lead­er­ship right now,” Collins said.

“We had a good meet­ing with Sen­at­or Mc­Con­nell, and it’s clear every­body is work­ing really hard to try and get to a solu­tion,” Collins ad­ded.

After Re­id met with Mc­Con­nell, Sens. Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., An­gus King, I-Maine, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., met with Re­id in Re­id’s of­fice. The sen­at­ors de­clined to give many de­tails of the con­ver­sa­tion, but soun­ded an op­tim­ist­ic note on the status of ne­go­ti­ations. Manchin de­scribed them as “very en­cour­aging.”

All eyes re­main on lead­er­ship in the Sen­ate. Manchin de­scribed bi­par­tis­an ef­forts by him­self, Collins, and oth­ers as “a con­tri­bu­tion” to the talks in pro­gress between Mc­Con­nell and Re­id. A fi­nal agree­ment could come as soon as Monday af­ter­noon or even­ing. “I think they’re close, I think they could,” Manchin said. “It’s just a mat­ter of pro­ced­ure, when we vote and what we do.”

What We're Following See More »
BACKING OUT ON BERNIE
Trump Won’t Debate Sanders After All
3 days ago
THE LATEST

Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”

AKNOWLEDGING THE INEVITABLE
UAW: Time to Unite Behind Hillary
4 days ago
THE DETAILS

"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.

Source:
AP KEEPING COUNT
Trump Clinches Enough Delegates for the Nomination
4 days ago
THE LATEST

"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."

Source:
TRUMP FLOATED IDEA ON JIMMY KIMMEL’S SHOW
Trump/Sanders Debate Before California Primary?
4 days ago
THE LATEST
CAMPAIGNS INJECTED NEW AD MONEY
California: It’s Not Over Yet
4 days ago
THE LATEST

"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.

Source:
×