Democratic centrists pursue deal

Five rank-and-file Democrats, most of them centrists, are continuing negotiations on a bipartisan fiscal deal in case talks between Senate leaders fall apart.

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“We have been involved in productive, bipartisan discussions with Sen. [Susan] Collins [R-Maine] and other Republican senators, but we do not support the proposal in its current form,” they wrote in a joint statement. “There are negotiations but there is no agreement.”

The statement came in response to Republican complaints earlier in the day that Democrats had walked away from the negotiating table.

Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Angus King (Maine) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) issued it.

Heitkamp, Pryor and Donnelly are three of the Senate’s most conservative Democrats. King is an independent who caucuses with Democrats.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) released a statement earlier in the day criticizing Democrats for not embracing a six-point proposal from Collins to open the government and raise the debt limit.


“It would reopen the government, prevent a default, provide the opportunity for additional budget negotiations around Washington’s long-term debt, and maintain the commitment that Congress made to reduce Washington spending through the Budget Control Act—the law of the land,” he said.

“It’s time for Democrat leaders to take ‘yes’ for an answer,” he added.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told reporters Sunday afternoon that talks had come to a standstill between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and McConnell, but expressed hope they would resume.

“They did [stall] over the last 24 hours but hopefully they’re going to get back on today,” he said.

Corker said negotiations bogged down after the White House pushed Reid and Senate Democrats to attempt to lift the budget levels in any deal to reopen the government.

“It appeared the White House may have gotten a little involved with Senate leaders, Democratic leadership, to pull back away from the Budget Control Act,” he said.

Reid and McConnell spoke by phone Sunday afternoon.