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Washington Beat: Senate Inches Closer To Gov't Shutdown, Debt Ceiling Deal

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TWC News: Washington Beat: Senate Inches Closer To Gov't Shutdown, Debt Ceiling Deal
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The top Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate say they are close to a deal to prevent a default on the nation's debt and end the government shutdown. Washington bureau reporter Geoff Bennett filed the following report for NY1.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - In Washington, there's nothing like a deadline to focus lawmakers.

Senate leaders seem to be close to reaching a deal to reopen the government and extend the U.S. debt ceiling.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are reportedly discussing a plan to keep the government funded through January 15 and extend the national debt limit until mid-February.

"We're doing the very best we can with all the frailties that we have as people and legislators," Reid said.

Congressional leaders were scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House Monday, but it was delayed as negotiations continued. Instead, the president visited a Washington D.C. food bank, where he again called on lawmakers to reach an agreement.

"The problem is is that we've seen this brinkmanship as a strategy time and time again to try to extract extreme or partisan concessions," Obama said.

Any proposal from the Democratic-led Senate has to be approved by the Republican-run House in order for the president to be able sign it. It's not yet clear how the House will act, given the demand by some House conservatives to link funding measures to the dismantling of the president's health care law.

"Both parties need to be committed to this responsible reality," said Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina.

With national polls showing Americans angry with the GOP over the government shutdown, Democrats are using the opportunity to chastise Republicans.

"I think this was a strategic mistake by the Republican Party overall, certainly the House of Representatives," said Rep. Joe Crowley of Queens. "There are really two big responsibilities that Congress has. That is to pass a budget and to pay its bills. And to do neither is reckless."

"Now, they [House Republicans] are in search of some other rationale to justify all their shenanigans, and it's just a question of how long that will go on," said Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas.

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