President postpones meeting

President postpones meeting
© Greg Nash

President Obama has postponed a Monday meeting with congressional leaders at the White House to give senators time to reach a deal that could end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling.

A deal discussed by Senate leaders would extend funding for the government through Jan. 15 and raise the debt ceiling until Feb. 15. 

Obama had been scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. with House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerTrump's pick for Federal Reserve chief is right choice at right time The two-party system is dying — let’s put it out of its misery One year later, neither party can get past last year's election MORE (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidVirginia was a wave election, but without real change, the tide will turn again Top Lobbyists 2017: Grass roots Boehner confronted Reid after criticism from Senate floor MORE (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAlabama election has GOP racing against the clock McConnell PAC demands Moore return its money Klobuchar taking over Franken's sexual assault bill MORE (R-Ky.).

But that meeting has been put on hold "to allow leaders in the Senate time to continue making important progress towards a solution that raises the debt limit and reopens the government," the White House said. 

The delay is being seen as a positive sign for the talks, particularly given positive statements made by McConnell and Reid about their talks on the Senate floor.

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Reid and McConnell, who took the reins of the fiscal talks over the weekend, appear to be close to a deal that could end the 14-day-old government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling.

The two leaders huddled for 30 minutes Monday morning. Asked afterward whether they would have an agreement to present to Obama, Reid said, “[I] sure hope so.”  

“We’re working on everything,” Reid said. “We continue to work on it. It’s not done yet.”

McConnell said he and Reid have had some “very constructive exchanges of views” in recent days.

“I share his optimism that we’re going to get a result that will be acceptable to both sides,” McConnell said.

A spokesman for Speaker John John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerTrump's pick for Federal Reserve chief is right choice at right time The two-party system is dying — let’s put it out of its misery One year later, neither party can get past last year's election MORE (R-Ohio) said Boehner had gone to McConnell to be briefed on the negotiations. 

Any deal approved by the Senate would still have to be passed by the House, where it would likely face some opposition from conservative Republicans.

That could force Boehner to make a decision about bringing a measure to the floor without the full support of his conference, in the hopes Democrats would back it. 

The stock market, which had begun to plunge Monday morning, rebounded early in the afternoon as positive signs emerged in the budget talks. But the reopening of the bond market Tuesday morning could be tumultuous if lawmakers fail to reach an agreement.

At a Washington, D.C., food pantry Monday, Obama said that he hoped "that a spirit of cooperation will move us forward over the next couple of hours." 

"I think there has been some progress on the Senate side with Republicans recognizing it's not tenable; its not smart; its not good for the American people to let America default," Obama said. 

Obama warned that if there were no compromise from Republicans, the U.S. could default on its debts.

“This week, if we don’t start making some real progress — both the House and the Senate — and if Republicans aren’t willing to set aside their partisan concerns in order to do what’s right for the country, we stand a good chance of defaulting, and defaulting could potentially have a devastating affect on our economy,” he said.

Democrats are pushing for a shorter-term spending bill that would reopen the government, coupled with a long-term extension of the debt ceiling. That would allow Democrats to push for a repeal of the automatic cuts from sequestration in the near future.

Republicans, meanwhile, are touting a proposal from GOP Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsStates fill family caregiver void left by Congress GOP senator: ObamaCare fix could be in funding bill Collins: Pass bipartisan ObamaCare bills before mandate repeal MORE (Maine) that would keep the sequester in place but allow greater discretion in how it was applied. Her plan would also raise the debt limit and change some aspects of ObamaCare. 

Democrats have thus far rejected the Collins plan, although lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have indicated that it could serve as the basis for a final agreement.

Republicans said the talks Sunday had stalled because Democrats were seeking an end to the spending cuts from sequestration.

The original Collins plan would fund the government for six months at an annualized rate of $986 billion, pushing the next deadline for a government funding bill to the spring.

That plan would virtually ensure that another round of automatic sequester cuts take effect Jan. 1, and Democrats fear they would have little leverage to reverse them.

Centrist senators signaled Monday that an agreement to end the fiscal impasse could be within reach.

Collins on Monday said senators were “making progress” toward a deal, though they’re “not there yet.”

“We're going to continue to meet throughout the day. And the conversations have been very constructive. We're not going to release any details until we have an agreement. I hope we will have an agreement,” Collins said.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDemocrats scramble to contain Franken fallout  Overnight Finance: House passes sweeping tax bill in huge victory for GOP | Senate confirms banking regulator | Mulvaney eyed for interim head of consumer agency Overnight Regulation: Senators unveil bipartisan gun background check bill | FCC rolls back media regs | Family leave credit added to tax bill | Senate confirms banking watchdog MORE (D-W.Va.), who has been involved in bipartisan negotiations with Collins, told CNN lawmakers were 70 percent to 80 percent of the way toward an agreement.

Lawmakers are scrambling to raise the debt ceiling before the Thursday deadline. Treasury Secretary Jack LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewSenator demands answers from DOJ on Russia bribery probe Koskinen's role in the ObamaCare bailout another reason Trump must terminate him The debt limit is the nation's appendix — get rid of it MORE says the government’s borrowing authority would be exhausted on that day, leaving the nation at risk of default.

“There is a lot of concern about whether we’re going to meet this deadline; I think at the end of the day, we will," Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerBannon: McConnell 'picking up his game' because of our 'insurgent movement' State Dept. spokeswoman acknowledges 'morale issue' The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Tenn.) told NBC News Monday. "But to do so, we really have to move ahead today with a Senate agreement, and then the House has got to be open to focusing on those things that make our country stronger, which is spending restraints."

Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterAnother perfect storm: Why we must act before flood insurance runs dry Democrats scramble to contain Franken fallout  GOP campaign committees call on Democrats to return Franken donations MORE (D-Mont.) told CNBC he’s optimistic that senators will find a way out.

"I feel more hopeful now than I have since Oct. 1," Tester said. “I think both Harry [Reid] and Mitch [McConnell] are talking, and I think it's going to result in something good."

— Alexander Bolton and Russell Berman contributed.

— This story was posted at 12:07 p.m. and was last updated at 3:52 p.m.