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US senators closing in on deal to end government shutdown

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 | 8:43 AM    

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate leaders are closing in on an agreement to reopen the government and forestall an economy-rattling default on US obligations.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky could seal an agreement on Tuesday, just two days before the Treasury Department says it will run out of borrowing capacity.

The emerging pact would reopen the government through January 15 and permit the Treasury to borrow normally until early to mid-February, easing dual crises that have sapped confidence in the economy and taken a sledgehammer to the GOP's poll numbers.

"The general framework is there between Reid and McConnell,” said Sen Bob Corker, R-Tenn. He said conversations with the House were continuing and he thought it would be midday Tuesday at the earliest before a plan was finalised.

President Barack Obama telephoned McConnell on Monday to talk about the emerging deal, a McConnell aide said. Congressional leaders had been scheduled to meet with Obama at the White House on Monday, but the meeting was postponed to allow more time for negotiations.

On Wall Street, futures were mixed early Tuesday, with investors somewhat optimistic over a potential deal.

Senator Mark Pryor, an Arkansas Democrat who was part of the bipartisan group known as the Gang of 12 which laboured over the weekend to end the stalemate, said Tuesday he was "pretty confident" the Senate leadership and the White House would announce an agreement some time later in the day.

Speaking of the House, Pryor told CNN that "some Republicans are, quite honestly, they're acting childish about this. They almost want a shutdown. They almost want to see us break the debt ceiling."

Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., also a part of the Gang of 12, told "CBS This Morning" she believes an agreement is near that "doesn't contain a lot of the partisan pills" that sank earlier proposals. She said it's urgent that national leaders find solutions to vexing issues so that the country doesn't "lurch from one financial crisis to another."

Many House conservatives were unhappy about the emerging framework, though it remained to be seen whether they would seek to change it.

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