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US lawmakers hopeful of deal to avoid default

world Updated: Aug 01, 2011 01:35 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
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The US senate late Saturday postponed a vote on a bill to end the debt crisis amid growing signs of a deal being reached with the White House plunging back into the negotiations. It had sat out most of the past week.

The senate was scheduled to vote on majority leader Harry Reid's bill seeking to raise the debt limit at 1am Sunday. But it was pushed to 1pm, in a move seen as indicating a deal was in sight, but in need of some more time. The deal, as it is said to be shaping up, will be a marriage of the competing plans put out by Democrats and Republicans. There were some details in reports sourced to unidentified officials and aides, but not officially confirmed.

"We are very close to a deal, which I can recommend to members of the Republican party," senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, who has emerged the key man on the Republican side, said just hours ahead of the vote. But Democrats and White House sources were less upbeat.

President Obama met Democrat leaders Senate majority leader Harry Reid and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi on Saturday. But these talks were not followed by statements or announcements as they are usually. News crews staking out the Capitol Hill, home of the US Congress, and the White House in the hope of a late night announcement headed home after a long and tiring day of fast moving developments, watched closely by the world.

The negotiators have until August 2 to pass a bill raising the debt limit from the current $14.3 trillion else the US could default on its financial obligations at home and abroad. It might also lose its triple-A rating as an investment destination.

The White House jumped back into the talks when the opportunity arose as the congress looked set to waste away the remaining time to the deadline swinging between partisan proposals doomed from the start.

Speaker John Boehner's proposal scrapped through the Republican-dominated house but was killed by the Democrat-dominated Senate. And Reid's bill awaited the same fate on Sunday.