Government Shutdown

By Lisa Mascaro
October 13, 2013, 5:18 p.m.

WASHINGTON – Talks in the Senate aimed at resolving the crisis over the federal budget hit a setback Sunday as Democrats, emboldened by GOP disarray, pushed their advantage, leading Republicans to warn against efforts to “humiliate” their party.

Although Senate leaders continued to talk, they appeared to make little progress over the weekend, dashing hopes that a deal could be announced before markets opened Monday. Some senators urged House Republican leaders to try again to push a measure through their chamber.

As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) opened a rare Sunday session, he said was confident a solution could be reached.

“We’re in conversation,” Reid said.

“It’s the height of hypocrisy to not pay our bills, the height of irresponsibility,” he added. “Americans want Congress to compromise.”

Reid and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky spoke Sunday, and Reid said later the discussions were “productive” and “substantive.”

The protracted stalemate has left Congress facing twin crises: Thursday’s deadline to raise the nation’s borrowing limit or risk a potentially catastrophic debt default, and a federal government shutdown that will enter its third week Tuesday.

Republicans had hoped they could use the standoff to gain leverage in their fight with Democrats over the budget and President Obama’s healthcare law, but find themselves in a dramatically weakened position. They have failed to unify around a common negotiating position and face polls showing that the public by large margins blames them for the stalemate.

As a result, a confrontation that started with the GOP on the offensive, driving to block or delay the healthcare law, has become a defensive effort by Republicans to hold onto budget cuts they achieved over the last several years.

On one level, the remaining issues up for debate are relatively small. Republicans have conceded that they will need to vote to end the government shutdown and extend the government’s ability to borrow money. At least in the Senate, they have given up their efforts to “defund or delay” Obamacare.

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