Meet the Press   |  October 13, 2013

Focus on Senate as debt deadline nears

Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin of Illinois and Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio discuss the negotiations currently ongoing in their chamber of Congress.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> plt obama are still crawling to the finish line in the race to end the fiscal crisis with the deadline this coming thursday. the focus is now in the senate. in session today, house speaker john boehner , and on saturday the talks between the house gop and president obama had broken down. so bottom line , there is no agreement on ending the shutdown of the government or raising the nation's debt limit. joining me now, the assistant majority leader of illinois, dick durbin and the senator of ohio, rob portman . the senate said this on saturday. let me share it with our audience.

>> i hope there is talking to give some solace to the american people and the world.

>> this is what should pass for progress in congress and washington doing its job? take solace in the fact that you're just talking?

>> it's a breakthrough. hard to imagine, but it's a breakthrough. we've reached a point where the house republicans and their leadership have really stepped to the sidelines. they're not part of this at this point. they can't agree among themselves about what they want to have done in this negotiation. the conversation that started yesterday between senator mcconnell, the republican senate leader, and senator reid, i think, has the promise of finding a solution. i don't want to be overly opty optimist optimistic, but there's a lot at stake. it isn't just the government shutdown , and that's laid off 7,000 federal employees and denied basic services. it goes way beyond this, as we know. if in four days we default on our debt for the first time in our history, it is going to have a dramatic negative impact.

>> senator portman, i want to get beyond talking points , i want to get beyond just pure argument. the american people simply want to know, why can't congress do its job?

>> first of all, congress can't do its job unless democrats are willing to talk, and the reason he said it was a breakthrough is because the president has refused to negotiate. it's unbelievable. this is the first time in history that a president of the united states has said, look, i'm not even going to talk about it. i served through presidents bush 1 and 2, senator portman has served through other presidents. why? you want to deal with the underlying problem, which is the spending problem.

>> is it both of your positions -- i think this is an important moment of clarity. do you both believe it's 100% the other side's fault?

>> here's the point we've reached. we should have been in a budget conference six months ago to discuss these issues. we tried 21 times in the senate to have a budget conference.

>> that's the question. is it 100% the republicans' fault that we're here?

>> if i could say there was fault on both sides, the republicans and the nat wouldn't even allow us to go to a budget conference.

>> is it 100% the president and democrats' fault, senator?

>> with all due respect, when the senate refused to put a budget out, democrats said, we don't need a budget, we can still have these appropriations bills. which is where we are, dick is right, not having appropriations bills. i would say the bipartisanship over the last few decades have been republicans and democrats alike overpromising and overspending. there's fault on both sides. that's why the president and leader of congress need to take the responsibility of dealing with the underlying problem and keep the budget caps in place, which, my gosh, we just put them in place two years ago, we've added almost $2 trillion to the debt since then, and now the democrats are saying we want to bust those caps, but second, on the debt limit, we need to make sure we're dealing with the underlying problem which is almost a $17 trillion national debt . the president