US senators expressed hope yesterday that a bipartisan deal could emerge to end Washington’s fiscal crisis even as Republicans in the House of Representatives said they were working on a separate plan.
Even if Democrats and Republicans agreed, the Senate might sign off on a plan only today, senators said, close to tomorrow’s deadline when the government said it would reach its borrowing limit and risked defaulting on its debt.
Republicans in the House of Representatives have been discussing an alternative plan that includes measures that would affect President Barack Obama’s health-care reforms, which have been at the heart of the crisis.
“I think we’ll get an agreement today in the Senate,” Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor said yesterday. “I’m not saying we can pass it today because there’s logistics about drafting and getting it to the floor and the procedural things we’ll have to do… but my guess is we’ll pass something in the Senate tomorrow [on Wednesday].”
Republican Senator Bob Corker said: “There’s a lot of work that’s going to be done over the next two or three days.” But he cautioned it was too early to be sure of a deal. “I don’t think it’s time to spike the football yet.”
Congressional sources said that the two sides in the Senate were still at odds over Democrats’ demand for a delay in an insurance fee that was part of the new health-care reforms, which are known widely as Obamacare.
Tomorrow is the deadline for raising the debt ceiling to extend the government’s borrowing authority. The Obama administration says it will be unable to pay all of its bills if Congress does not raise the $16.7 trillion (R166 trillion) debt limit by then.
The federal government has been in partial shutdown since October 1 when Congress missed the deadline for funding it. – Reuters