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Manchin says Senate '70 to 80 percent' of the way to a fiscal deal

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Monday expressed optimism that a bipartisan budget agreement he’s spearheading with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) would gain traction in the Senate once the final details are ironed out.

“I think we're 70 percent-80 percent there, putting the extra 20-25 percent to it,” Manchin said on CNN’s "New Day."

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He suggested the sticking points to a deal include how long a continuing resolution to fund the government would last, and how long an extension of the debt ceiling would be.

Democrats are pushing for a shorter government-funding bill and a longer debt-limit hike. They see the earlier deadline on a government-funding measure as giving them leverage to get rid of some of the sequester spending cuts.

“When should the (continuing resolution) come due, when should the debt ceiling come due, and does that give that time for the budget conference, the Budget committees to sit down and work through this? Those are the details that have to be worked out,” he said.

Separately on the "Today" show, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) expressed optimism a deal would be reached before Oct. 17, the deadline set by the Treasury Department for raising the debt ceiling. 

“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," he said. "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."

The proposal formulated by Collins would fund the government for the next six months at previously agreed upon sequester levels, although it would give federal agencies more flexibility in making some of the cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act. The proposal would also raise the debt limit and make some small reforms to ObamaCare.

The proposal counts a handful of Senate Republicans and Democrats as supporters, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has so far dismissed the proposal, saying it’s “not going to go anywhere at this stage.”

“The good news is, there are 12 of us — six Democrats, six Republicans — that have been talking for two weeks,” Manchin continued. “We’ve got a good template. We believe that the template that we put together is something that both leaders are looking at, Leader Reid and Leader McConnell. They need to put the numbers to it. They need to basically put the dates on the [continuing resolution] and the debt ceiling. But this is a good compromise that works well and it basically can move our government forward.”

Speaking on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe," Manchin lamented the fierce partisan struggles that led to the government shutdown, and personally apologized to the American people for the dysfunction.

“I miss the good old days, I’ll tell you that,” he said. “And the bottom line is this, I just never thought that I’d ever sign up for public service and then you see the agencies that you sign up for have self-inflicted pain on the people you take an oath to serve.”

“I’m ashamed and I want to apologize to the American people,” he added. “This is not what we signed up for. This is not what I’m going to sit back and let happen if I can help it.”

The West Virginia Democrat also responded to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s remark that if he were in the Senate he’d kill himself.

“They haven’t put us on suicide watch yet, but they’re concerned about us,” Manchin quipped.

—This story was posted at 10:18 a.m. and updated at 10:23 a.m.