Reid, McConnell talk deal (Video)

Reid, McConnell talk deal (Video)
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason Reid2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care Reid says he wishes Franken would run for Senate again Panel: How Biden's gaffes could cost him against Trump MORE (D-Nev.) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAre Democrats turning Trump-like? House Democrat calls for gun control: Cities can ban plastic straws but 'we can't ban assault weapons?' Churches are arming and training congregants in response to mass shootings: report MORE (Ky.) are taking the lead on talks to raise the debt limit and reopen the government, according to senators.

Reid and McConnell are working off a six-point proposal sponsored by Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCook Political Report moves Susan Collins Senate race to 'toss up' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move MORE (R-Maine) that would fund the government for six months and raise the debt ceiling until Jan. 31, 2014.

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Senators view discussions between the two leaders as a promising sign of potential bipartisan compromise.

“Reid and McConnell are talking now and those discussions continue so I see that as progress,” said Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy O'Rourke says he will not 'in any scenario' run for Senate MORE (R-Texas).

“There are a number of different elements,” he added. “The fact that they’re actually talking for the first time represents significant progress.”

Democrats  said they could not accept the Collins offer as it now stands. 

"I admire Sen. Collins's intent but her six-month CR presents too many problems," said Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara Ann MikulskiLobbying World Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Raskin embraces role as constitutional scholar MORE (D-Md.), chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

During a Senate vote on Saturday, a large number of Democratic senators huddled around an animated Collins to discuss the situation.

Collins's offer would also delay for two years a tax on medical devices intended to pay for a portion of the healthcare law's costs. It would also strengthen efforts to prevent fraud by people who get tax subsidies to pay for ObamaCare.

GOP senators said talks on a deal to raise the debt ceiling and end the shutdown are now in the Senate, and not the House. 

“The real conversation that matters now is the one that's taking place between McConnell and Reid,” said Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (R-Tenn.). “We're at place where something important has evolved.”

“Earnest" talks between the two Senate party leaders began in the last 24 hours, as talks between the White House and House Republicans fizzled, he said.

Corker said Senate Republicans were providing McConnell with "a lot of support" in the fledgling talks.

However, he also made clear that the Senate would likely move a compromise package, if one emerged, without first clearing it with the Republican majority in the House.

"I'm not sure the House is at a place where they could send something over right now that 218 Republicans agree on, so I think that would be hard to negotiate," he said.

Reid and McConnell met with Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerAppropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid Colorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down Trump ahead of New Hampshire speech: Lewandowski would be 'fantastic' senator MORE (N.Y.), the third-ranking Democratic leader, and Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Hill's Morning Report - How will Trump be received in Dayton and El Paso? McConnell faces pressure to bring Senate back for gun legislation Criminal justice reform should extend to student financial aid MORE (R-Tenn.) Saturday morning to discuss the outlines of a deal.

“My hope is that Sen. McConnell and Sen. Reid will work together to come up with a way for us to open the government and pay our bills and reduce our debt," Alexander said. "And if they can do that over the next few hours, the country will be better off.”

House Republicans worry their GOP colleagues in the upper chamber will cut a deal that does little to undermine ObamaCare and jam them with legislation to raise the debt limit shortly before the Oct. 17 deadline.

Alexander said Senate Republicans are moving ahead, anyway.

“We can’t control the House. We have to do the best we can, send it to the House, and they have to do the best they can,” he said.

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump moves forward with F-16 sale to Taiwan opposed by China The Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape O'Rourke says he will not 'in any scenario' run for Senate MORE (R-Texas) warned GOP leaders not to sign onto any agreement that leaves the healthcare law largely intact.

“Providing significant relief to the millions of Americans who are hurting because of ObamaCare, that should be the focus,” Cruz told reporters.

“Republicans in the House are working to fund vital priorities and they’re also working to provide meaningful relief to the millions of people across this country who have lost their jobs, who have lost their healthcare because of ObamaCare,” he said. “That’s what our focus should be and that’s what I’m urging people both privately and publicly to do.”

Cruz criticized Senate Democrats for not picking up House-passed bills to fund various government agencies during the shutdown.


This story was updated at 1:29 p.m.