Debt Accord Elusive

Senate leaders seek end to U.S. shutdown.

Senate leaders have yet to reach an agreement on how to end the U.S. fiscal impasse amid mounting concern in financial markets three days before the government’s borrowing authority lapses.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday that he had a “productive conversation” with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell without reaching a conclusion on a plan to send to the Democratic-controlled chamber for a vote.

Shifting Focus

The Senate talks are shifting away from Republican efforts to curtail President Barack Obama’s health-care law, the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to focus on spending and the duration of the debt-ceiling extension.

Spending Levels

The Senate negotiations include discussions of easing the spending caps imposed by the across-the-board cuts known as sequestration. Richard Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, said there is a $70 billion spending gap between Democrats and Republicans.

Sequestration Cuts

Reid and McConnell on Oct. 12 held their first negotiating session since the shutdown began Oct. 1. “The frameworks they had were not far apart,” Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York said yesterday on “Face the Nation,” referring to McConnell and Reid’s effort. “The dispute has been how to undo” the sequestration cuts.

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