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Standoff shifts to the Senate

With only four days to avoid a U.S. default, Senate leaders must make another round of arguments to the American public.
/ Source: MSNBC TV

With only four days to avoid a U.S. default, Senate leaders must make another round of arguments to the American public.

US President Barack Obama (C) meets with Senate Democratic leaders (L-R) Dick Durbin, Chuck Shumer, Harry Reid and Patty Murray, in the Oval Office in Washington DC on Oct. 12, 2013. (Photo by Martin H. Simon/EPA)

With only four days left to raise the debt ceiling, key Senate negotiators are taking to the Sunday morning talk shows to make their pitch for what a deal should look like.

Heavyweights like Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill, Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Rand Paul, R-Ky., and John McCain, R-Ariz., are all schedule to make appearances

The Senate has taken center stage in the shutdown and debt ceiling fights since negotiations stalled between House Republicans and the White House this weekend.

Though there’s still no sign of an imminent deal, both parties are still talking — progress considering the stalemate that held well into ten days of a government shutdown.

The fight that began over Obamacare has now turned to spending, with Republicans in the Senate pushing to maintain levels enacted last year in across the board cuts, known as sequester.

But Senate Democrats rejected a proposal from Maine Republican Susan Collins  Saturday afternoon that they said kept spending levels far too low. Collins’ proposal would have raised the debt ceiling until January 2014 and would have funded the government at sequester levels for six months.

Senate Democrats such as Dick Durbin, who is scheduled to appear on Meet the Press, also argued that a longer debt ceiling extension is needed to avoid hurting the economy as Americans enter into the holiday shopping season.

Democrats then met with President Obama at the White House to discuss next steps. Before heading to that meeting, Schumer made it clear that after more than two weeks of disorder in the House, it’s time for someone else to step in.

“My view is that it will be the senate that will have to come to an agreement here,” Schumer said, “because the house republicans seem so divided and in such disarray, they don’t have a plan.”

Speaking at a press conference Saturday afternoon, the senators struck very different tones. While McConnell described talks between himself, Reid, Lamar Alexander and Chuck Schumer as “a good meeting,” Reid was more pessimistic.

“I’m just doing my best, I’m not confident in anything  the way Republicans have acted,” Reid said.

At a conference meeting early Saturday morning, Speaker of the House John Boehner pushed responsibility for reaching some sort of compromise to the Senate and told his fellow representatives to stay united while talks continue.

After a contentious meeting at the White House Friday night, Ted Cruz was absent from discussions today, but Sen. Lindsay Graham subbed for Cruz as the GOP’s angry firebrand. Graham called Obama “a pathetic leader” because of his refusal to acquiesce to Republican demands over the both the continuing budget resolution and the debt ceiling. “It’s dysfunction at every level,” he said.