HOUSE Speaker John Boehner

HOUSE Speaker John Boehner

WASHINGTON

Senate leaders are optimistic about forging an 11thhour bipartisan deal preventing a possible federal default and ending the partial government shutdown after Republican divisions forced GOP leaders to drop efforts to ram their own version through the House.

Pressured by the calendar, financial markets and public opinion polls, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, DNev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., were hoping to shake hands on an agreement today and, if possible, hold votes later in the day.

Driving their urgency were oft-repeated Obama administration warnings that the government would exhaust its borrowing authority Thursday and risk a federal default that could unhinge the world economy. Lawmakers feared that spooked financial markets would plunge unless a deal was at hand and that voters would take it out on incumbents in next year’s congressional elections — though polls show the public more inclined to blame Republicans.

PRESIDENT Barack Obama

PRESIDENT Barack Obama

“People are so tired of this,” President Barack Obama said Tuesday in an interview with Los Angeles TV station KMEX.

Feeding concerns were a warning Tuesday from the Fitch credit rating agency that due to the budget impasse it was reviewing its AAA rating on U.S. government debt for possible downgrade. Stock markets gave negative reviews as well, with the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 index both dropping Tuesday by nearly 1 percent.

Aides to Reid and McConnell said the two men had resumed talks, including a Tuesday night conversation, and were hopeful about striking an agreement that could pass both houses.

It was expected to mirror a deal the leaders had neared Monday. That agreement was described as extending the debt limit through Feb. 7, immediately reopening the government fully and keeping agencies running until Jan. 15 — leaving lawmakers clashing over the same disputes in the near future.

It also set a mid-December deadline for bipartisan budget negotiators to report on efforts to reach compromise on longer-term issues like spending cuts. And it likely would require the Obama administration to certify that it can verify the income of people who qualify for federal subsidies for medical insurance under the 2010 health care law.

But that emerging Senate pact was put on hold Tuesday, an extraordinary day that highlighted how unruly rank-and-file House Republicans can be, even when the stakes are high. Facing solid Democratic opposition, House Speaker John Boehner,

R-Ohio, tried in vain to write legislation that would satisfy GOP lawmakers, especially conservatives.

Boehner crafted two versions of the bill, but neither made it to a House vote because both faced certain defeat. Working against him was word during the day from the influential group Heritage Action for America that his legislation was not conservative enough — a worrisome threat for many GOP lawmakers whose biggest electoral fears are of challenges from the right.

Boehner’s inability to produce a bill that could pass his own chamber likely means he will have to let the House vote on a Senate compromise, even if that means it would pass with strong Democratic and weak GOP support.


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