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Monday
Oct142013

Potential Senate Deal Would Fund US to Jan. 15, Raise Ceiling Through Feb. 15

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The latest outline of a potential Senate deal to end the fiscal impasse and government shutdown calls for keeping the government funded until Jan. 15 and raising the debt limit through Feb. 15, congressional aides told ABC News Monday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are spearheading the negotiations.

It is still a moving target, but the plan is the framework for what McConnell and Reid believe could make a deal -- "and avoid repeating this all over again at Christmas," in the words of one top adviser.

But it's unclear how House Speaker John Boehner, who is being advised on the plan, and his Republican conference would react to any Senate deal.

President Obama Monday reiterated his belief that Congress has little time to waste.

If House Republicans aren't "willing to set aside some of their partisan concerns in order to do what's right for the country," President Obama warned Monday, "we stand a good chance of defaulting."

Speaking to reporters during a surprise visit to a Washington food pantry, where he met with furloughed workers who are volunteering as the president prepared to meet with congressional leaders to resolve the government shutdown and threat to the debt limit, Obama said, "There has been some progress in the Senate."

"I think House Republicans continue to think that somehow they can extract concessions by keeping the government shutdown or by threatening default," Obama added. "My hope is that a spirit of cooperation will move us forward over the next few hours."

Reid and McConnell, who have sparred for years, expressed similar optimism, taking to the Senate floor Monday afternoon to say that a deal could be in sight to reopen government and avoid default.

"I'm very optimistic that we will reach an agreement that is reasonable in nature this week to reopen the government," Reid said.

He said "constructive good-faith negotiations continue," with aides telling ABC News they do not expect a deal to be announced before or during the White House meeting Monday afternoon.

"I deeply appreciate my friend the minority leader for the diligent effort to come to an agreement," Reid said.

For his part, McConnell also used Washington speak -- "my good friend" -- to address Reid.

"We had an opportunity to have some very constructive exchanges of views about how to move forward. Those discussions continue and I share his optimism that we're going to get a result that will be acceptable to both sides," McConnell said.

Meanwhile, Obama, in shirtsleeves and an apron alongside volunteers assembling sandwiches, said, "These are folks who have not been paid, in some cases are very eager to be back on the job but are not even allowed to work. And yet they're here contributing and giving back to the community, and I think that shows the kind of spirit that we have among all kinds of federal workers all across the country."

The president was scheduled to meet at the White House on Monday with Reid, D-Nev., McConnell, R-Ky., House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Democratic Leader Pelosi, D-Calif., however that meeting was cancelled to allow the Congressional leaders time to continue progressing towards a deal.

"My hope is that the kind of spirit that is shown by all these outstanding volunteers is going to carry over into the meeting with the leadership this afternoon. They can solve this problem today," he said.

"This is fairly simple and this whole shutdown has been completely unnecessary," he said. "Keep in mind that the problem isn't that the U.S. government has run out of money, the problem is not that our deficits are going up....The problem is that we've seen this brinksmanship as a strategy time and time again to try to extract extreme or partisan concessions."

Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, Reid met privately for a little more than a half-hour Monday with McConnell, the Republican leader.

As he left the meeting, which was before their Senate comments Monday afternoon at 2 p.m., Reid said there was no deal, yet.

"We're continuing to work on it." Reid told reporters. "It's not done yet."

Asked whether he thinks they will have an agreement before they head to the White House this afternoon, Reid said, "Sure hope so."

Aides on both sides tell ABC News they are optimistic for getting a deal -- even if it's a short-term one -- but don't know whether it will be Monday. There is still disagreement on how much to fund the government and whether the deep cuts from sequester will remain.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio