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Senate leaders optimistic about ending budget impasse

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Senate leaders optimistic about ending budget impasse

Senate Democrats and Republicans expressed growing optimism the US government will avoid breaching the debt ceiling Thursday, as both sides coalesce to end the first partial government shutdown in 17 years. The federal government has been in partial shutdown mode since October 1 after House Republicans and Senate Democrats failed to reach an accord to extend the government’s borrowing authority.

President Barrack Obama has remained firm in his conviction to see through a resolution that doesn’t jeopardize his 2010 Affordable Care Act. The landmark healthcare bill, which promises to extend affordable healthcare coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans, has been at the centre of the political crisis.

Obama postponed an afternoon meeting with congressional leaders in an effort to keep the momentum of the dialogue going. Both sides are making “important progress” toward a deal, according to the White House. The new proposal being crafted would suspend the debt limit through February 15, 2014 and fund the government through January 15, 2014. The proposal, if passed, would require a House-Senate conference to discuss the budget by December 15.

“I’m very optimistic that we will reach an agreement that’s reasonable in nature this week,” according to Nevada Democrat and Majority Leader Harry Reid. Minority Leader and Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell shares Reid’s optimism, as both sides continue to piece together a resolution. The current movement marks the biggest breakthrough to-date in Democrat-Republican negotiations to end the budget impasse. However, any proposal could face several delays in the Democrat-controlled Senate and Republican-led House.

A failure to pass a resolution before the October 17 deadline could lead to a default—one that would likely have catastrophic consequences on the US and global economies. Boehner and other lawmakers have already vowed not to let that happen. The next few days will test their resolve in increasing the borrowing authority and end the two-week long shutdown.

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