Three days before the U.S. hits the debt ceiling, Republicans are scrambling to save face -- and coming up with few good options.
President Barack Obama walks back to the Oval Office after he visited Martha’s Table, which assists the poor and where furloughed federal employees are volunteering, in Washington, Monday, Oct. 14, 2013. (Photo by Charles Dharapak/AP)
Republicans went for the jugular on Obamacare, letting the government shut down rather than budge. But relentless efforts to undermine the president’s health care act and extract fiscal concessions from Democrats in budget talks have succeeded only in tanking the GOP’s popularity.
Now, three days before the U.S. hits the debt ceiling, Republicans are scrambling to save face — and coming up with few good options.
Speaking at a D.C. food bank on Monday, President Obama said there had been some progress on the Senate side for a potential deal, but warned that the country still stands a good chance of defaulting.
A meeting planned between Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and leaders of both the House and Senate was postponed to give the Senate more time to come to an agreement.
As negotiations enter the final hour, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are leading efforts to find a way out of the impasse.
Earlier in the day, Reid told reporters he hoped to have a deal with McConnell before meeting with Obama.
“It’s not done yet,” Reid said.
Asked if they would have a deal before 3 p.m., he said: “I sure hope so.”
Negotiations now hinge on two key points: The length of the debt ceiling increase, and government funding levels.
On Sunday, Sen. Bob Corker lamented the GOP’s “overreach” by focusing on defunding Obamacare, and urged the Senate to, at the very least, pass a short term bill that would avoid a default.
Senate Democrats rejected a GOP plan proposed by 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.
Reid said he appreciated Collins’ efforts to find a consensus, but said the proposal was dead in the water at this time. “The plan that I’ve seen in writing is not going to go any place at this stage,” he said.
McConnell released a statement Sunday urging Democrats to agree to the plan. “It’s time for Democrat leaders to take ‘yes’ for an answer,” it read in part.
On Meet the Press Sunday, Sen. Dick Durbin made it clear that Democrats are willing to discuss cuts to major programs like Social Security and Medicare — once the debt ceiling crisis has been averted. “Put everything on the table,” Durbin said.
Additional reporting by NBC’s Kasie Hunt.