Nightly News   |  October 13, 2013

Senate negotiations could be best chance to end shutdown

Senators tried hammering out a compromise to end the weeks-long government shutdown. Meanwhile, protesters picketed outside the White House. NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reports.

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

>>> another day of lots of talk and no action. what we have sadly come to expect from our leaders 13 days after they allowed much of the u.s. government to run aground. the pain the shut down inflicted on americans isn't enough, in 72 hours it will go from bad to worse. it's when the debt ceiling expires. 80 times since 1960 the congress has raised the limit without drama. contrary to what some may think, raising the debt ceiling doesn't give authority to take on new spending, only to pay bills it already has. like social security , military pay and veterans benefits . paying those bills is expected to burn through the cash on hand at the end of the month leaving the u.s. the first time ever in default. what are the white house and congress doing to avoid it? we start with kelly o'donnell on capitol hill where frustration spilled in to the streets for a time today.

>> reporter: sure did, lester. with the dire consequences days away , tonight the senate and republican top officials responsible for finding a solution had just one phone call and made no progress. senators are divide over how much federal spending should be permitted in a budget extension that would reopen the government and how long any new borrowing limits should last. today, this impasse brought out anger and emotion. voices from across the political divide brought their frustrations to washington's landmarks today, both liberal and con can servetive protests. the far larger turnout, tea party inspired demonstrators toppled and stacked barricades in front of the white house . today, barricades became a symbol of anger over closed monuments and were cut apart and carried from the closed world war ii memorial .

>> all of these people are here because things are broken. the memorial is a flash point for conservatives. tea party stars sarah palin and ted cruz were there.

>> our veterans should be above politics. enough games.

>> reporter: inside the capitol, senators were on the job today. the senate's top party leaders are talking.

>> it's a breakthrough. hard to imagine but it's a breakthrough.

>> reporter: the negotiations are not considered the best chance to open government an renew the government's ability to borrow known as the debt ceiling which runs out this week.

>> i think it is not a good idea to go through the debt ceiling deadline.

>> reporter: republicans are suspicious about a senate compromise and maintain a deal that reduces government debt will make the pain of the gridlock worthwhile.

>> in the short-term sacrifice of a shutdown is inconsequential if you change spending patterns in the united states of america and get us on a path of growth and prosperity.

>> reporter: many who came to be heard say they are out of patience.

>> my own personal opinion is i blame actually the congress, not the president.

>> what do we want.

>> to end the shut down.

>> when do we want it?

>> now.

>> reporter: they say they believe within a day or so the senate could come up with an agreement. what remains unclear is how house republicans will react.