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U.S. Senate leaders take over talks on shutdown, debt limit

After negotiations between House Republicans and President Barack Obama fail, the Senate's top Democratic and GOP leaders begin looking for common ground on reopening the federal government and avoiding default.
by Chris Casteel Published: October 13, 2013

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, crafted a plan that would have extended the debt limit and reopened the government in exchange for some relatively minor changes to the Affordable Care Act and more flexibility for federal agencies to administer budget cuts.

Reid said the only thing Democrats liked about her plan was that it reopened the government and extended the debt ceiling.

Debt ceiling vote fails

In their talks with Obama, House Republicans offered to extend the nation's borrowing authority for six weeks to jump-start broad budget negotiations.

But Obama said in his weekly Saturday address that “it wouldn't be wise, as some suggest, to just kick the debt ceiling can down the road for a couple months, and flirt with a first-ever intentional default right in the middle of the holiday shopping season.

“Because damage to America's sterling credit rating wouldn't just cause global markets to go haywire; it would become more expensive for everyone in America to borrow money.”

Republicans on Saturday blocked legislation that would have raised the debt ceiling for a year.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, who is recuperating from heart surgery and missed the vote, said he would have opposed the bill.

“Raising the debt ceiling without any common-sense solutions to rein in the federal government would be irresponsible and reckless, which is why I would have voted no,” Inhofe said.

With House Republicans now at least temporarily on the sidelines, Cole said he expects the Senate “to cobble something together and send it to the House.”

If that something is “reasonable,” Lankford said, the House should vote on it.

House Republican leaders have refused even to allow a vote on a bill that would reopen the government with no strings attached.

Democrats made several attempts again on Saturday to force a vote but were repeatedly rebuffed. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said a majority of Democrats and Republicans have said they would vote to reopen the government.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, “has prevented democracy from working its will,” Van Hollen said.

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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