Obama hopeful as fiscal meeting nears with top lawmakers
Updated: 2013-10-15 02:28
A man walks through the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol during the partial government shutdown in Washington October 14, 2013.[Photo/Agencies]
WEIGHING ON THE ECONOMY
The government shutdown, now in its 14th day, is beginning to weigh on the economy as well. The hundreds of thousands of federal employees who have been temporarily thrown out of work are likely to get back-pay when the standoff is resolved. But they aren't getting paid now, forcing many to dial back on personal spending and cancel holiday travel plans.
Any agreement that would come in the following days would not resolve disagreements over long-term spending and the Affordable Care Act that led to the standoff in the first place. Despite the objections of rank-and-file conservatives like Salmon, many Republicans are eager to move the discussion away from "Obamacare" and toward possible spending cuts.
"All of us now are talking about spending, which is where we should have been in the first place," Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee said on MSNBC.
Throughout the shutdown, Obama has said Republicans must agree to reopen the government and extend the debt ceiling before the two sides can begin talks on spending or tweaks to his Affordable Care Act.
That position has not changed.
"We will not pay a ransom for Congress reopening the government and raising the debt limit," the White House said in a statement on Monday.
A potential bipartisan plan being discussed in the Senate would raise US borrowing authority through January 31 and keep the government open for several months.
Senate Democrats would like a longer time frame, to avoid rattling markets and consumers, and are backing legislation that would give Treasury enough borrowing power to extend through 2014.
"If we just extend this to January, we'll be right back in the middle of this," Democratic Senator Mark Begich of Alaska said on MSNBC.
A major sticking point appears to be the level of government spending, which has been reduced by the deep, across-the-board "sequester" spending cuts that took effect in March. Another round of cuts are scheduled to kick in early next year. McConnell wants to protect them even though most Democrats and some Republicans want them eased.
Senate Republicans were pushing a plan that would keep the sequester cuts in place for up to six months. Democrats want to extend them for a much shorter period - initially proposing until November 15 - and then have spending rise to a slightly higher level.
The approximately $72 billion difference between the two positions is not insurmountable, but it could draw objections from conservatives in the House.