Senate leaders hint at looming deal to end shutdown, raise debt ceiling
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A Senate deal to end the government shutdown and avert the US from defaulting on its debt might be in sight, as both Republican and Democrat leaders share an optimistic outlook, following an intense day of talks. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, and his Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell, hinted on Monday they were nearing a deal that would resolve the political stalemate, end the two-week-long government shutdown and extend the Treasury Department's borrowing authority. According to the leaked Senate deal, the debt ceiling would be raised to a level necessary to allow the country to keep on borrowing till February 2014. In case the lawmakers do not manage to strike a deal, the US might be only two days away from financial collapse. October 17 is when, according to US Treasury Department estimates, the country will reach its $16.7 trillion borrowing limit. As the financial D-Day nears, the world is on alert. It's been estimated that 16.8-trillion dollars in securities held by investors is at risk. "We've made tremendous progress", Reid said. "We are not there yet, but tremendous progress. And everyone just needs to be patient. Perhaps tomorrow will be a bright day." McConnell, usually a fierce critic of Reid, agreed with his counterpart this time. "I share his optimism that we're going to get a result that will be acceptable to both sides," he said. The looming Senate deal will only see some minor changes to President Obama's landmark healthcare law. This has already caused mixed reactions among conservative Republicans, who wanted to see a major overhaul for the bill. Some, like Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, believe resolving the government deadlock outweighs all other concerns. "We need to get an agreement and open the government back up," he said, as cited by The Washington Post. There are however, fierce hardliners within GOP, who are not ready to compromise. "No deal is better than a bad deal," Representative Joe Barton of Texas said, suggesting that even if the deal is struck in the Senate, the House might not follow suit. This tough stance might well cost the party supporters, as 74 percent of Americans disapprove of the way GOP has handled the standoff, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released on Monday. The same poll shows a 53 percent disapproval rating for President Obama.