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Sens. Reid, McConnell both ‘optimistic’ shutdown deal can be reached

October 14, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
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GWEN IFILL: Our lead story tonight: Negotiations in the Senate aimed to break the stalemate in Washington. The talks came with the partial shutdown, government shutdown, now two weeks old, and the debt ceiling deadline just three days away.

NewsHour congressional correspondent Kwame Holman begins our coverage.

KWAME HOLMAN: After meeting over the weekend and again this morning, the Senate’s top Democrat and Republicans found reason for hope.

Majority Leader Harry Reid:

SEN. HARRY REID, D-Nev.: I’m very optimistic that 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.

KWAME HOLMAN: And Minority Leader Mitch McConnell:

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SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-Ky.: We have had an opportunity over the last couple of days to have some very constructive exchanges of views about how to move forward. Those discussions continue. And I share his optimism that we’re going to get a result that will be acceptable to both sides.

KWAME HOLMAN: On the House side, as Speaker John Boehner returned to the Capitol, it remained unclear how his Republican rank-and-file would receive any resolution worked out in the Senate.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-Ohio: Hi. How are you?

KWAME HOLMAN: President Obama raised that issue as he visited a D.C. charity food kitchen where furloughed federal workers are volunteering.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I think House Republicans continue to think that somehow they can extract concessions by keeping the government shut down or by threatening default. And my hope is, is that a spirit of cooperation will move us forward over the next few hours.

KWAME HOLMAN: The president initially invited the House and Senate leader to the White House at mid-afternoon. But that was postponed, according to the White House Press Office, to allow more time for a deal to come together in the Senate.

Meanwhile, the partial government shutdown reached its 14th day, although some national parks reopened over the weekend. So did the Statue of Liberty, with the state of New York agreeing to cover the daily operating costs for now.