Senators in Bipartisan Talks on Deal to End Shutdown

Friday, 11 Oct 2013 05:30 PM

By Melanie Batley

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A group of Senate Republicans is seeking out influential Senate Democrats in an attempt to reach a bipartisan solution to the budget impasse and the debt ceiling crisis, Politico reports.

The GOP senators reportedly are proposing a rough framework for a longer-term solution than the six-week debt ceiling increase currently being floated by House Speaker John Boehner.

According to Politico, some of the ideas being discussed include: a one-year extension of government funding at current sequestration levels with more flexibility on agency spending; a long-term debt limit increase of more than a year; a repeal of Obamacare's medical device tax; changes to the Independent Payment Advisory Board under the healthcare law, and income means testing for Obamacare subsidies.

"The Senate should act, OK? Then we try to coordinate with the House, but the Senate should act. For the first time there seems to be some real movement," Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain, who is involved in the discussions, told Politico.

The efforts have been spearheaded by Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins and facilitated on the Democratic side by New York Sen. Chuck Schumer. In addition to McCain and Collins, other Republicans involved in the discussions include Tennessee Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, and New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte. Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Dick Durbin of Illinois have waded in on the Democratic side to join Schumer.

"My staff is drafting legislative pieces, but they're doing so in terms of several different options to try to figure out what we can put together that would have the most support," Collins told Politico, adding that Republican leaders "have encouraged me to go forward and proceed."

According to Politico, the senators involved in the talks are looking to steer clear of any proposals that could alienate lawmakers on either end of the ideological spectrum. At the same time, they're hoping to craft a package that could attract both Senate Democrats and win the backing of House Republicans.

"I feel some gelling taking place," Corker told Politico. "There's still a lot of gyrations we need to go through over the next 24 hours, but I do feel some consensus developing."

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