Senate leaders said Monday they would reach a deal to open the government, with McConnell confirming he will deliver a plan to Republicans at 5:30 PM ET.
According to a senior aide on Capitol Hill, the deal would extend the debt ceiling to approximately mid-February, while including a continuing resolution that funds the government until January 15. The debt ceiling is almost impossible to calculate, because of measures taken by the Treasury Department to shuffle around assets.
Meanwhile, President Obama stepped aside to allow progress to continue. “The President’s 3:00 pm meeting with the bipartisan leadership has been postponed 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 said.
Reid, McConnell, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) were scheduled to meet with President Obama at 3 p.m. The meeting was supposedly postponed to give Senate leaders more time to craft a deal, but White House officials were hoping to have news of a market collapse to pressure Republicans.
Now that the markets have rebounded, it is unsurprising to hear that the new meeting time was not announced. Nevertheless, Senate leaders are optimistic, giving positive statements on and off the floor of the Senate.
“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,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on the Senate floor.
He thanked Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) “for his diligent efforts to come to an agreement.”
McConnell reenforced Reid’s optimism.
“Let me just echo the remarks of my good friend,” he said. “We have had an opportunity over the last couple of days to have some very constructive exchanges of views about how to move forward,” he said.
“I share his optimism that we’re going to get a result that will be acceptable to both sides,” McConnell added.
Reid told reporters earlier today that he would like to have a deal by the time Senate leaders travel to the White House Monday afternoon.
Before the postponement by President Obama, Reid was asked if he thought Senate leaders would reach a deal by the meeting, to which Reid said, “sure hope so.”
“We’re working on everything,” Reid said when asked about the outline of the negotiations. “We continue to work on it. It’s not done yet.”
A Senate GOP aide said Reid and McConnell are “engaged in good faith negotiations, and those talks will continue.”
Reid met with McConnell in the GOP leader’s office for about 30 minutes before the Senate came into session. When he left, he gave the media a bit of a lashing, saying that he and the minority leader get along far better than the media has reported.
“That’s greatly exaggerated. Sen. McConnell and I have worked together for more than 30 years, very closely since we’ve been whips. So, no problem,” he said.
However, Reid was not sure if Republicans would accept the Democrats’ latest offer to open the government and raise the debt ceiling.
“Shouldn’t take anything for granted,” he said.
Reid hinted Democrats have not made any significant concessions, even though the Republicans have been capitulating on everything. It was unclear whether or not the sequester cuts, which were being viewed by Republicans as an effort to move the goalpost, were still on the table.
When asked, what Democrats have offered, he said, “We didn’t offer any — we talked yesterday as everyone knows.”