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Nation/World

October 12, 2013

Accelerated efforts, but no agreement on shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP) — With time running short, President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner accelerated efforts yesterday to prevent the U.S. Treasury from default and end a partial government shutdown that stretched into an 11th day. The latest impacts: New aircraft grounded, military chaplains silenced and a crab harvest jeopardized in the Bering Sea.

“Let’s put this hysterical talk of default behind us and instead start talking about finding solutions,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Republicans in the House and Senate separately made proposals to the White House for ending an impasse that polls say has inflicted damage on their party politically.

Each offered to reopen the government and raise the $16.7 trillion debt limit — but only as part of broader approaches that envision deficit savings, changes to the health care law known as Obamacare and an easing of across-the-board spending cuts that the White House and Congress both dislike. The details and timing differed.

“We’re waiting to hear” from administration officials, said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Hopes remained high on Wall Street, where investors sent the Dow Jones industrial average 111 points higher following Thursday’s 323-point surge.

In meetings with lawmakers over two days, Obama left open the possibility he would sign legislation repealing a medical device tax enacted as part of the health care law. Yet there was no indication he was willing to do so with a default looming and the government partially closed.

Obama called Boehner at midafternoon, and Michael Steel, a spokesman for the leader of House Republicans, said, “They agreed that we should all keep talking.”

Jay Carney, the president’s press secretary, said Obama “appreciates the constructive nature of the conversation and the proposal that House Republicans put forward. At yet, the spokesman said, “He has some concerns with it.”

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