Reid and McConnell chat; no deal imminent

Senate leaders engaged in a brief discussion Sunday about a possible fiscal deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling but gave no signal an agreement is imminent.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he is still optimistic of an agreement to avoid a federal default and will continue talking with Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.).

“I have had a productive conversation with [the] Republican leader this afternoon,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “Our discussions were substantive and we’ll continue those discussions.

“I’m optimistic about the prospects for a positive conclusion to the issues before this country today,” he added.

A source with knowledge of the phone conversation said it lasted about five or six minutes. The source said Reid set up the call.

Reid declined to say whether a repeal or delay of the medical device tax or reform of the process for applying for subsidies through insurance exchanges are still on the table.

“I’m not going to get into that,” Reid said as he was leaving the Senate Sunday evening.

When asked if he was more hopeful of a deal than at the beginning of the day, Reid said, “sure.” 

McConnell earlier in the day expressed frustration that Democrats would not accept a six-point plan offered by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to open the government and raise the debt limit.

The plan would include reforms to ObamaCare, such as delaying the medical device tax, lock in federal spending at $986 billion for the first six months of fiscal year 2014, and set up a bicameral budget conference.

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