|US debt and budget deals appears within sight, Obama rounds on Republicans
US lawmakers are close to a deal to stave off a debt default and avert a self-inflicted political calamity.
Signs of hope emerged, three days before a deadline to raise the US government's borrowing limit and as a partial government shutdown was on the cusp of entering its third week.
After several failed attempts to end the impasse, veterans Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and his Republican opposite number Mitch McConnell had low-key talks aimed at saving the day.
“I'm very optimistic we will reach an agreement that's reasonable in nature this week to reopen the government, pay the nation's bills and begin long-term negotiations to put our country on sound fiscal footing,'' Reid said.
At the end of a session in the Senate, he said that “we are not there yet, but tremendous progress'' has been made, in words that eased tension on the markets.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 0.42 percent higher at 15,301.26 while the broader S&P 500 was up 0.41 percent to 1,710.14.
“Everyone just needs to be patient. We hope... that tomorrow will be a bright day,'' Reid said.
McConnell added: “I share his optimism that we are going to get a result that will be acceptable to both sides.''
Their comments were the strongest sign yet that Republicans and Democrats, in the Senate at least – want to end the damaging political crisis that has dented the country's international standing.
Should the Democratic-led chamber coalesce on a deal, the focus would then shift to whether Republican House Speaker John Boehner can secure sufficient support from his restive conservative coalition in the House to send it to Obama's desk?
With progress apparent, and White House sources saying the feeling there mirrored the optimism in the Senate, Obama canceled a meeting he had called with Reid, McConnell, Boehner and Democratic House minority leader Nancy Pelosi.
The optimism contrasted with US President Barack Obama's terse tone of a few hours earlier, when he lambasted Republicans and warned of the consequences if a deal was not soon reached.
“If Republicans aren't willing to set aside their partisan concerns in order to do what's right for the country, we stand a good chance of defaulting and defaulting could have a potentially... devastating affect on our economy,'' Obama said.