US President Barack Obama postponed a planned meeting with lawmakers to discuss the government shutdown and the debt ceiling amid signs of progress in the Senate, the White House said on Monday.
The meeting, which was scheduled for 3 p.m., had been delayed to “allow leaders in the Senate time to continue making important progress towards a solution that raises the debt limit and reopens the government,” according to a White House statement.
The leader of the Democratic majority in the Senate, Harry Reid of Nevada, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), held two rounds of talks on Monday.
Both men expressed optimism about a possible solution to the budget and debt impasse.
Mr. Obama used Monday’s Columbus Day holiday to visit a Washington charity, where he said that “if Republicans aren’t willing to set aside some of their partisan concerns in order to do what’s right for the country, we stand a good chance of defaulting”.
The government went into partial shutdown at midnight Sep 30 after the Republican majority in the House of Representatives refused to pass a temporary funding measure — known as a continuing resolution — without a delay in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Obama’s signature domestic initiative.
Even as the shutdown stalemate drags on, concern has shifted to the prospect of a US default if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling by Oct 17.
House Republicans said last week that they were prepared to pass a temporary increase in the debt ceiling, but without ending the shutdown.