The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

October 14, 2013

Reid, McConnell optimistic on debt-shutdown deal

(Continued)

McConnell insisted a solution was readily available as he embraced the proposal from a bipartisan group of 12 senators, led by Collins and Manchin, that would re-open the government and fund it at current levels for six months while raising the debt limit through Jan. 31.

It also would give agencies greater flexibility in dealing with the automatic budget cuts, delay the medical device tax for two years and establish income verification for individuals receiving subsidies to buy health insurance.

"It's time for Democrat leaders to take 'yes' for an answer," McConnell said in a statement.

"This haven't put us on suicide watch yet," Manchin joked Monday morning, "but they're concerned about us."

He said, "The leaders have to come together" and decide what time frame a stopgap spending bill would cover and how much it would cost.

Tennessee's Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican, said the leaders of both parties need to be "getting on the same page."

McConnell and Republicans want to continue current spending at $986.7 billion and leave untouched the new round of cuts on Jan. 15 that would reduce the amount to $967 billion. Democrats want to figure out a way to undo the reductions, plus a long-term extension of the debt limit increase and a short-term spending bill to reopen the government.

"Republicans want to do it with entitlement cuts," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. "Democrats want to do it with a mix of mandatory cuts, some entitlements and revenues. And so how do you overcome that dilemma? We're not going to overcome it in the next day or two."

He suggested keeping the government running through mid-January.

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