Senate Takes Lead as House Republicans’ Talks With White House Fail

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from The New York Times,

Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell on Saturday began last-ditch negotiations on reopening the government and raising the debt ceiling as talks between House Republicans and the White House collapsed, dashing hopes for a quick resolution to the political crisis that has paralyzed the government.

The dead end with the House, coming just five days before the nation reaches its borrowing limit and faces the possibility of a crippling financial default, has left Republicans on Capitol Hill with no easy options.

“No deal,” Representative Paul D. Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, said as he left a meeting with fellow Republicans in the Capitol.

There is now little doubt that any deal to reopen the federal bureaucracy would have to come from the Senate, where Mr. Reid, the majority leader, and Mr. McConnell, the minority leader, sat down face to face on Saturday morning for the first time since July. The meeting, which both sides described as a constructive if highly preliminary step toward talks that would continue throughout the weekend, was an indication of just how urgent the situation had become.

“I hope that our talking is some solace to the American people and the world,” Mr. Reid said.

He and Mr. McConnell are now back leading a negotiations process that has so far been marred by mistrust and anger.

Mr. Reid was careful not to sound too hopeful but said: “Senator McConnell and I have been in this body a long time. We’ve done things for a long time together. I know him. He knows me. We don’t agree on everything, and that’s, as you know, an understatement.”

He added, “This is what legislating is all about.”

The relationship between the two men has been so chilly lately, in fact, that it took two other senators, Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, and Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, to arrange the meeting.

For Speaker John A. Boehner and House Republicans, the options were much grimmer. The speaker, who told his members in an early morning meeting that his efforts to strike a compromise with the White House had failed, can continue to push back against President Obama and hope for some give in the White House’s stance that it will not negotiate until the government is reopened and the debt ceiling is raised. If he pursues a more accommodating approach similar to his Republican colleagues in the Senate, he risks angering the conservatives who dominate his conference.

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