October 11, 2013

Obama opens talks with Republicans, but no resolution yet

The president plans a late-morning White House meeting with GOP senators, who say they will present options for ending the shutdown and debt limit standoff.

By Alan Fram
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio leaves his office on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday for the White House and a meeting with President Barack Obama regarding the ongoing budget fight.

The Associated Press

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Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew listens while testifying on Capitol Hill on Thursday before the Senate Finance Committee to urge Congress to reopen the government and lift the U.S. borrowing cap.

The Associated Press

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“It would be a grave mistake” to ignore the risks to the U.S. and world economy that a default would raise, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warned the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday.

House Republicans’ insistence on spending cuts and deficit reduction come with the 2013 budget shortfall expected to drop below $700 billion after four years exceeding $1 trillion annually.

But their insistence on cuts in the health care law as the price for reopening government has frustrated many Senate Republicans, who see that battle as unwinnable.

That has prompted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other GOP senators to seek their own possible resolution to the shutdown and debt limit fights.

“For the first time there seems to be some movement,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said after a meeting with McConnell, R-Ky., and a half dozen Senate Republicans.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and others have proposed a six-month extension of government spending, repeal of the medical device tax and greater flexibility for agencies to deal with across-the-board spending cuts in effect this year.

McCain said the goal was ending the shutdown and raising the debt limit, but said, “We will not defund Obamacare,” a crucial demand for conservatives.

Reid has proposed extending the debt limit through 2014, which would boost the current $16.7 trillion debt limit by around $1 trillion. He has been planning for a test vote by Saturday on the measure, which has no other conditions, but Republicans may have enough votes to block it unless he agrees to changes.

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