New ‘Hope’ for Debt, Shutdown Deal as Reid, McConnell Meet (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Posted October 14, 2013 at 12:46pm

Updated 3:38 p.m. | Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., shuttled between each other’s offices Monday in an attempt to forge a debt limit and government shutdown deal before they head to the White House sometime today.

As he left a 40-minute meeting in McConnell’s office earlier Monday, Reid said there was “hope” for an agreement soon. He was back in McConnell’s office more than an hour later in the afternoon.

After that meeting, both men headed to the floor to open the Senate for business. Reid and McConnell expressed optimism about getting a deal. And on exiting the chamber, McConnell told reporters he was having “very constructive discussions, both today and yesterday.”

He added, “We’re optimistic we’re going to be able to come together and get an outcome.”

Reid also was meeting with a group of moderate Democrats who have been negotiating a bipartisan deal with Republican Susan Collins of Maine in his own office.

Spotted entering the Nevada Democrat’s office were Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Conference Vice Chairman Charles E. Schumer of New York and Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, independent Angus King of Maine and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

When Reid was asked by a reporter in a large scrum whether he will have an agreement before the White House meeting with Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Reid said, “I hope so.”

Despite that hopefulness, the White House meeting that had been scheduled for 3 p.m. was indefinitely postponed, presumably to give Reid and McConnell more time to negotiate.

Still, things appeared to be moving apace. Boehner visited McConnell’s office in the 3 o’clock hour to get an update on the status of Senate talks, Boehner’s spokesman said.

And Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said Senate Republicans would hold a conference after expected 5:30 p.m. votes.

Klobuchar said after exiting Reid’s office Monday that parts of the Collins plan were under discussion in any potential deal.

“Clearly there are elements being discussed … that are part of the work that we’ve done,” Klobuchar said.

Later on CNN, Klobuchar expressed cautious optimism about the state of talks.

“There are some very productive discussions going on, very positive,” Klobuchar said.

She hinted that any deal to reopen the government and raise the debt limit would also include “a reasonable time frame where we can negotiate a longer term budget deal.” She also indicated that changes to the Obamacare medical device tax were in the works, but she expressed uncertainty over whether the White House would agree to tinker with a tax that was used in part to fund the Affordable Care Act.