White House meeting postponed as new deal agreement appears close

President Barack Obama walks back to the Oval Office after visit to Martha's Table, which assists the poor and where furloughed federal employees are volunteering. (AP/Charles Dharapak)

President Barack Obama walks back to the Oval Office after visit to Martha’s Table, which assists the poor and where furloughed federal employees are volunteering. (AP/Charles Dharapak)

With both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell saying they were closing in on an agreement to avoid a catastrophic default by the government and also reopen the partially-shutdown agencies, a planned meeting of House and Senate leaders with President Barack Obama at the White House was postponed to give negotiators more time to come up with a deal.

Reid met twice with McConnell Monday and then open a session of the Senate saying he was “very optimistic we will reach an agreement this week that’s reasonable in nature.”  McConnell added a strong second to Reid’s optimism and termed his meetings with Reid “a couple of very useful discussions.”

Sources within both the Democratic and Republican parties told Capitol Hill Blue that discussions were closing in on an agreement to raise the current $16.7 trillion debt limit until Spring of 2014, which would end the current threat of a default on Thursday.

Also, both sides discussed tightening income verification requirement for those who might qualify for subsidies for Obamacare.

The agreement currently under discussion would create a group of House and Senate negotiators to work towards a deficit-reduction plan that might curtail or wipe out a new set of automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect in January 2014.  The current round of cuts under effect in “sequestration” affect both domestic and defense programs but the new round of cuts would primarily strike the Pentagon.

“We’re close to an agreement that we think might work,” one Senate aide said.  “The key will be selling it to the House.”

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